Monday, June 15, 2015

Bush Cherry Vanilla (Freezer) Jam

Pictured here on 60-minute rolls.

A few years ago we were at an outdoor market and one of the organizations there was giving out free plants.  We picked up three plants from them and placed them in our back yard.  They grew into nice shrubs with beautiful red berries that the birds seem to enjoy.  I trimmed them up to look more tree-like and shade our back porch.  (See picture below)

After having them a few years, we were picking up my son at my mother-in-law's house and I noticed him eating some berries from the same type of plant that we had in our back yard.  I asked my mother-in-law (who knows a lot more about gardening and plants than I do) and found out that we were the proud owners of 3 bush cherry plants (also known as 'nanking cherry').  The fruits are edible, although small with a rather large pit for the size of cherry they produce.  They are tasty though.

Where we live, the fruit ripens about mid June.  Even with the birds feasting on them, there is still lots of cherries for us.  It is that time again to pick the cherries and make something wonderful.  My kids are great at helping pick the berries.  This is what we did last year with the fruit, and we enjoyed delicious jam through the entire year from this project.  My son describes this as his favorite jam ever!  It tastes great on fresh baked rolls, and makes an excellent PB&J.


10-11 cups washed bush cherries
1 diced fuji apple (core removed but leave skin)
1 cup water
3 cups sugar
6 Tablespoons pectin powder (I used Ball brand Classic Pectin)
1/2 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla

1.  Combine cherries and apple in a large pot.  Add water and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes.  Mash/stir occasionally while cooking.
2.  Remove from heat and pour the cooked mixture through a colander with a large pot underneath to catch all the juice and pulp.
3,  Push/mash the pulp through the colander and into the pot underneath so all what is left in the colander is mostly remaining cherry pits (I found it impossible to push through every bit of pulp).
4.  Place 4 cups of the pulp/juice into a pot and bring to a roiling boil for 2 minutes.
5.  Add sugar and mix well.  Bring back to a boil and continue to boil for 4 minutes.
6.  Mix in pectin powder and then lemon juice.  Stir 5 minutes over low heat.
7.  Remove from heat and mix in the vanilla.
8.  Pour jam into sterile containers and leave at room temperature for about 8 hours (overnight), then freeze or refrigerate.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Hot Chocolate

In the wintertime, there is nothing better than a warm cup of hot cocoa.  Unfortunately, most of the store bought brands contain milk ingredients.  Not to be discouraged though, because it is so easy (and inexpensive) to make your own!  Simply use a 1 to 2 ratio of powdered sugar to cocoa cocoa.

You can make one cup at a time by mixing 1 Tablespoon of cocoa powder with 2 Tablespoons of powdered sugar into your favorite vegan milk.  I find it is best to mix up a bunch, and store a container - then it is super convenient anytime we're craving a warm cup of hot chocolate.

My favorite vegan milk to use with this is coconut milk - but others work well too.  I like to add different things in too depending on my mood and cravings, such as a sprinkle of cinnamon, a pinch of salt and/or cayenne pepper, a peppermint candy, or a splash of flavored syrup.

1/2 cup of cocoa powder
1 cup confectioner's sugar (powdered sugar)

1.  Combine ingredients.
2.  Thoroughly stir in ~3 Tablespoons (or to taste) of the powdered mix to 1 cup of hot vegan milk (such as soy, coconut, rice, almond, etc).
3.  Add any additional flavored syrups or ingredients (peppermint, cinnamon, etc) if desired.  Enjoy immediately.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Celery Pear Bisque

This is a recipe that combines ingredients that you normally wouldn't think of together - pears and celery.  The combination of flavors and textures is wonderful.  My whole family loves this!

I usually use Bartlett pears, but today (as you can see from my pictures) I had a lot of Asian pears on hand, so I used those.  I have also made this recipe using canned pears.  If using canned pears, be sure to get the light syrup, and rinse off the pears before using.  Otherwise, you may have too much sweetness in your bisque.

4 1/2 Tablespoons of vegan margarine
6 cups thinly sliced celery (~12 stalks, or 1 good sized bunch) - reserve the leaves for garnish
3 cups pears, cored, peeled, and diced (2 cans rinsed, if you don't have fresh - get light syrup)
1 cup diced onion (about 1 small onion)
3 small bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon dry thyme (or 1 1/2 teaspoon of chopped fresh thyme if you have it)
1 1/2 Tablespoon of flour
5 cups of vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon of salt (or to taste)
a spinkle of pepper (or to taste)
3/4 cups of raw cashews, soaked in water for 3+ hours

1.  Soak the cashews in enough water to cover them for 3 hours up to overnight, or as long as possible if you didn't plan ahead.
2.  Melt the margarine in a large stockpot over medium-high heat.
3.  Add the celery, pears, onion, bay leaves, and thyme.  Cook until celery softens (about 8 minutes).
4.  Add the flour and the vegetable broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for about 20 minutes.
5.  While the soup simmers, drain the water from cashews.  Place the cashews into a blender, and cover with just enough fresh water to cover the cashews.  Blend on high for about a minute, until completely smooth.  If you feel some of this 'cashew cream' between two fingers, the texture should not be gritty - if it is, keep blending until smooth.
6.  Remove the bay leaves from the soup.  Puree the soup with a hand blender right in the pot (or in a regular blender in small batches if you don't have a hand blender).
7.  Add the salt and pepper.
8.  Stir the cashew cream into the soup.  Reheat briefly before serving.  Garnish with finely chopped celery leaves.

This recipe was adapted from a recipe given out at a free vegan cooking class hosted by Jennifer Russell-Fenus, the author of Recipes From The Kitchen Of A Self-Proclaimed Veganista.  She adapted her recipe from a recipe posted elsewhere, but I no longer have the information on where she originally obtained it.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Mushroom Gravy

This year, at our house, we hosted a 100% vegan Thanksgiving!

We had many appetizers, like pickles, veggies, olives, chips, salsa, guacamole, hummus, nuts, etc.  For the main meal, I cooked a Tofurky roast, with veggies, stuffing, rolls, with home-made cherry vanilla jam, and lingonberry sauce (sweeter and better than cranberry sauce IMO).  I also made this delicious mushroom gravy to accompany the roast, veggies, and stuffing.  For dessert, I served pumpkin cheesecake, snickerdoodles, and pumpkin cookies.

After our meal, we watched the movie Free Birds.  It seemed to be a fitting movie to watch after a turkey-less Thanksgiving meal!

2 Tablespoons olive oil (separate Tablespoons)
8oz mushrooms (I used baby bella), chopped into small pieces
2 green onions, minced
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon dry thyme
3 cups strong vegetable broth (my favorite is Better Than Bouillon)
salt and pepper to taste (I used about 1/4 teaspoon of salt and a sprinkle of pepper)

1.  Heat 1 Tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet.  Add the mushrooms and onions.  Cook for ~2 minutes over high heat.
2.  Add the other 1 Tablespoon of olive oil, and sprinkle the flour and thyme evenly over the mushrooms and oil.  Stir together.
3.  Add the vegetable broth and stir together.  Simmer over medium-low heat for ~10-15 minutes until the gravy thickens.

This original recipe found to make this gravy was created by Chef Roberto Martin, Ellen DeGeneres' personal chef.  That recipe can be seen here.

Monday, November 24, 2014


I recently made these cookies and my whole family loved them.  They turn out with a perfect a soft texture, but still hold together.  The smell of these cinnamon-sugar coated cookies is warm and inviting.  This recipe will make ~24 cookies.

The recipe, utilizes banana and applesauce instead of eggs.  There are many vegan egg-substitutes.  It takes a bit of practice and experience to determine which substitute will work best, depending on what qualities you need.  I'm still not an expert on this, but when something works well (as it did in this recipe) - I make note and will be sure to share.  Here is a list of 20 different egg-substitutes used in vegan baking/cooking:

1 egg = 1/2 banana, mashed
1 egg = 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 egg = 1/4 cup mashed avacado
1 egg = 1/4 cup cooked pumpkin
1 egg = 1 Tablespoon ground flaxseed + 3 Tablespoons of water (mix well and let sit for 2 minutes)
1 egg = 3 Tablespoons peanut butter
1 egg = 1 Tablespoon agar agar + 1 Tablespoon water (mix well)
1 egg = 1 Tablespoon chia seeds + 1/3 cup water (mix well and let sit for 15 minutes)
1 egg = 2 Tablespoons arrowroot + 3 Tablespoons water (mix well)
1 egg = 1 Tablespoon soy protein powder + 3 Tablespoons water (mix well)
1 egg = 2 Tablespoons cornstarch + 3 Tablespoons water (mix well)
1 egg = 2 Tablespoons baking powder + 2 Tablespoons water + 1 Tablespoons veg. oil (mix well)
1 egg = 1 teaspoon baking powder + 1 Tablespoon vinegar + 1 Tablespoon water (mix well)
1 egg = 2 teaspoons baking powder + 2 Tablespoons water (mix well)
1 egg = 2 Tablespoons potato starch + 2 Tablespoons water (mix well)
1 egg = 2 Tablespoons corn stach + 2 Tablespoons water (mix well)
1 egg = 2 Tablespoons prepared (vegan) instant mashed potatoes
1 egg = 1/4 cup silken tofu
1 egg = 3 Tablespoons chickpea flour + 3 Tablespoons water (mix well)
1 egg = 1/4 cup plain vegan yogurt

Other than these, there are commercially sold egg-substitute products such as Ener-G Egg Replacer and Bob's Red Mill Egg Replacer.  There are also products such as 'volcanic salt' (or 'black salt') that can be used to get a sulfuric egg flavor in your recipes (like tofu scramble) when needed.

You might know of some others vegan alternatives to eggs.  Please share what you use, and which are your favorite in the comments section below!

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup vegan margarine, softened
1/2 banana, mashed well
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1.  Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
2.  In a mixing bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups sugar, with margarine, banana, applesauce, and vanilla.  Mix well.
3.  In a separate bowl, combine flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt.
4.  Mix the bowl of dry ingredients into the wet and combine well into a dough.
5.  Combine 2 Tablespoons sugar with the cinnamon into a separate small bowl.
6.  Shape dough into balls a bit smaller than golf balls, and flatten a bit before placing in the cinnamon/sugar mix.  Coat all sides with cinnamon/sugar and place on an ungreased non-stick baking sheet.
7.  Bake for 9 minutes.  Immediately remove cookies from the sheet and allow to cool on parchment or wax paper.

This recipe was adapted from a recipe originally posted by 'Sue W' on  The original recipe can be found here.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Buffalo "Chicken" Sandwich

This recipe was inspired by my favorite vegan sandwich shop in Salt Lake City - Buds.  They have amazing sandwiches, and I especially love their "Buffalo Sandwich."  Unfortunately, Buds has been closed for the past several months for renovations (or something).  Their opening date keeps getting pushed back, and my cravings for their delicious food has been through the roof.

I satisfied my craving for a Buffalo sandwich this week by coming up with this recipe that combines spicy and savory buffalo "chicken" with a smooth and tangy blue-cheese-like white sauce, with crunchy purple cabbage.  The whole family loved these!

This recipe is easy to prepare once you have the ingredients.  I grabbed a package of (vegan) ciabatta bread from my local store to make this super easy.  If you are feeling ambitious, you could make buns by using my 60-Minute Roll recipe.  Using the ciabatta bread, which was about the size of a standard veggie-burger bun, the recipe made about 8 sandwiches.

I toned down the spiciness of the sauce for the kiddos - but feel free to amp up the cayenne or pepper sauces if you want a bit more kick.

Again, I'm using soy-curls.  If you are unfamiliar with this wonderful product, check out my recipe for Coconut Curry "Chicken" for all the details.  You are missing out if you've never tried them.

2 cups water
1 Tablespoon of "Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base"
8oz Butler Soy Curls (one package)

6 Tablespoons vegan margarine
6 Tablespoons Frank's Red Hot Hot Cayenne Pepper Sauce
1 1/2 Tablespoons white vinegar
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce (or similar vegan pepper sauce)
1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup vegan mayo (I like Just Mayo)
3/4 teaspoon tahini
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/8 lemon juice

1/4 head of purple cabbage, chopped

8 vegan buns of your choice (home-made or store-bought)

(For the buffalo "chicken":)
1.  Combine the water and "Better Than Boillon No Chicken Base" in a sauce pan with a lid.  Heat on medium heat until almost boiling, then remove from heat and add the soy curls to the mix.  Stir the soy curls into the broth and put the lid on.  Set aside, and set a timer for 8 minutes while you make the buffalo sauce.
2.  In another saucepan, combine the margarine, Frank's sauce, white vinegar, cayenne pepper, 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, and salt.  Heat on low until simmering.
3.  After the time (for 8 minutes) goes off, stir the soy curls and broth again.  The soy curls should have absorbed almost all of the broth.  If there is a little left in the bottom - just leave it.  Pour the prepared buffalo sauce over the soy curls, stir, replace lid and set on very low heat (or a still-warm burner).  Stir to evenly coat the soy curls with sauce before making a sandwich.
(For the tangy white sauce:)
4.  In a small mixing bowl, combine the mayo, tahini, 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder, apple cider vinegar, and lemon juice.  Mix well until smooth.
5.  Apply a generous amount of the tangy white sauce onto both top and bottom sides of the bun.  To the bottom half of the bun, add plenty of the buffalo "chicken" soy curls, then top those with some chopped purple cabbage, and then finish it off by placing on the top half of the bun.  Enjoy immediately.

The buffalo sauce recipe was adapted from a recipe from John Mitzewich from About Food for the buffalo sauce, which claims to be the authentic recipe from Anchorbar in Buffalo, New York.  The original recipe can be found here.  The tangy white sauce was adapted from a recipe from 'Livvy' from  The original recipe can be found here.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Creamy "Chicken" and Dumplings

This is vegan comfort food at its finest.  Great for those cold nights, or if you need some "chicken" soup to make you feel better.  Easy to throw together and so delicious.

1 1/2 cups raw cashews
1 Tablespoon vegan margarine
1/2 cup onion, (about a half an onion) chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed (or minced if you don't have a garlic press)
8 cups water
3 Tablespoons 'Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base"
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 1/2 cups celery, (about 3 large stalks) chopped
8oz Butler Soy Curls (one package)
1 cup unsweetened soy milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/16 teaspoon pepper
12oz bag frozen peas/carrots
1 7.5oz tube of refrigerated 'homestyle' biscuit dough (Pillsbury and P$$t brand are vegan)
a bit of flour

1.  Soak the cashews in plenty of water (make sure they are covered) for 3+ hours, up to overnight.  If you don't have 3 hours - soak them as long as possible while proceeding with the recipe.
2.  Heat 1 Tablespoon of margarine in a soup pot on medium-high heat.  Cook onions until translucent (about 2 minutes) and then put garlic in and cook for an additional minute.
3.  Add 8 cups of water, the bouillon base, poultry seasoning, celery, and cook for a couple minutes on medium heat.
4.  Place soy curls into broth.  Cook on medium heat, almost to a boil, for 10 minutes.
5.  Add in soy milk, frozen peas/carrots, and heat up again to almost a boil.
6.  While the soup re-heats, drain the water from the cashews, and place them into a high powered blender (I have a 'Nutribullet' that works great).  Fill the blender with fresh water until the cashews are barely covered with water at the top.  Blend on high for about a minute.  This will make 'cashew cream' - you can check the consistency by rubbing a bit between two fingers.  If it is gritty at all, continue to blend.  It should be completely smooth in texture.
7.  Add the cashew cream, salt, and pepper to the soup and heat through to almost boiling again.
8.  While the soup re-heats, open the biscuit dough and cut each round dough-disc into fourths with a pair of kitchen shears (in half and in half again).  Place pieces on a plate dusted with flour.
9.  Place pieces of dough into soup and simmer for about 15 minutes to cook through, then serve immediately.