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.



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

Directions:
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.

Ingredients:
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







Directions:
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!



Ingredients:
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)

Directions:
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

Snickerdoodles

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!

Ingredients:
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

Directions:
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 allrecipes.com.  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.

Ingredients:
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)

Directions:
(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.
(Construction:)
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 86lemons.com.  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.

Ingredients:
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

Directions:
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.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Pumpkin Seeds

Halloween is one of my family's favorite holidays.  I usually start off by making orange-pumpkin-shaped pancakes for breakfast (I'll post my pancake recipe later).  Then we dress up, attend school costume parades, visit family, carve pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns, eat warm comfort foods, trick-or-treat around our neighborhood, watch movies and roast pumpkin seeds in the oven.  The aroma of these roasted pumpkin seeds is what Halloween smells like at our house.

These are easy to make, and are a delicious snack - on Halloween and for a few days after.  That is about all they last because they are so good.

A note about Worcestershire sauce:  Traditional Worcestershire sauce contains anchovies.  There are plenty of vegan brands though, such as 365 brand (Whole Foods' brand), Annie's, The Wizard's, or Wan Ja Shan.

Ingredients:
2 cups of pumpkin seeds - DO NOT rinse off the wet orange coating and minuscule pieces of pulp
1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 1/4 teaspoons seasoned salt


Directions:
1.  Cut off the tops of your pumpkins, and remove the seeds first.  Hands work best to do this - think of it as a pumpkin spa treatment for your fingers!  Remove any large pieces of pulp or pumpkin guts from the seeds, but don't worry if there are very small pieces attached.  Resist the temptation to rinse the seeds clean of all pulp and wet orange coating - that stuff adds to the taste of the seeds and makes them delicious.  If you rinse off all that goodness, the seeds are not as tasty.  After all the seeds are removed from the inside of the pumpkins, then scoop out all the stringy guts and pulp to prepare your pumpkins for carving.
2.  Preheat your oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
3.  Determine how many cups of seeds you have.  The recipe above is for every ~2 cups of pumpkin seeds.
4.  In a large mixing bowl, pour the olive oil, vegan Worcestershire sauce and seasoned salt evenly over the seeds.  Mix well to distribute the sauce and seasonings throughout all the seeds.
5.  Dump the seeds onto a rimmed non-stick cookie sheet, and spread out evenly onto the sheet.  Put a maximum of ~4 cups of seeds onto each sheet used.
6.  Place the seeds into the oven at 250 degrees Fahrenheit.  Stir the seeds every ~20 minutes and bake for about 1 hour to 1 hour and 30 minutes.  The time will depend on how many seeds you have, and the size of the seeds used.  The seeds should no longer stick together when stirred, be crisp, dry and light golden brown when done.





Monday, October 27, 2014

Banana Bread

This is my favorite banana bread recipe.  It is easy to make any time I have a few bananas that have gotten too ripe.  The bread turns out soft, moist and delicious.  (The batter is so good too!)


I used to make the recipe with 4 bananas, until one day I had only 3.  I added in 1/4 cup of applesauce as a substitute for one of the bananas and it turned out great.  My family said they liked it just as well or better.  So if you don't have any applesauce in your home, but you do have an extra banana - that will work for you.

Also, a tip about brown sugar.  If you don't have any, but you have molasses - you can use 1/2 Tablespoon of molasses combined with 1/2 cup of granulated sugar.  Mix well and use.  If you want dark brown sugar, use 1 Tablespoon combined with 1/2 cup of sugar.

When baking this recipe, I've found that the toothpick trick doesn't work very well.  I have taken it out of the oven too soon because the outside looks browned, just to find when it cools that the very middle is still a bit doughy.  Still good, because to eat the dough is wonderful - but not exactly "bread" in the middle.  I would suggest leaving it in for at least 40 minutes, and adjusting for your own oven the next time you make it if needed.

This is a recipe that gets the whole house smelling good, and my whole family is hungry before it comes out of the oven.

Ingredients:
3 medium ripe to over-ripe bananas, mashed well with a fork
1/4 cup of applesauce (I use no-sugar added)
1/2 cup coconut oil, warmed up if needed so it is liquid
1/2 cup brown sugar (*see tip above)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup white flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
a pinch of salt (~1/16 teaspoon)

Directions:
1.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and grease a bread loaf pan with a bit of coconut oil.
2.  In a large bowl, mash up the bananas well with a fork (or potato masher, or hand blender, or whatever works well).
3.  To the mashed bananas, add the applesauce, coconut oil, brown sugar, vanilla extract, and mix well.
4.  In a separate bowl, combine the wheat flour, white flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
5.  Fold flour mixture into the banana mixture really well (I use a spatula to do this and then scrape down the sides).
6.  Pour the batter into the greased bread loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 40-45 minutes.


This recipe was adapted from a recipe found on the website www.vegrecipesofindia.com.  The original recipe can be found here.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies




These are my family's favorite cookie this time of year.  To be honest, they are probably my family's favorite cookie any time of the year, but it just seems right to eat them in the fall.  You can make really simple and tasty cookies by:
Mixing 1 vegan boxed white cake mix + spiced can of pumpkin + vegan chocolate chips,
-Or-
Mixing 1 vegan boxed spice cake mix + regular can of pumpkin + vegan chocolate chips,
-Or-
Mixing 1 vegan boxed white cake mix + regular can of pumpkin + cinnamon, ginger, cloves (as written below) + vegan chocolate chips.

I've made multiple batches of pumpkin cookies over the years, using various methods.  Out of the 3 methods listed above, my family liked the 3rd the best (where I add in the spices myself).  I've since substituted the boxed white cake mix for the first 4 ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, salt) listed below.  I did this to have a consistent recipe, and to be able to make these cookies even if I don't have a cake mix (plus no label-checking boxes at the store).  The recipe I've come up with below is my family's absolute favorite.

Vegan chocolate chips can be found at just about any store.  Trader Joe's Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips are vegan, and there is also a cheap generic brand I've found at my local Smiths.

This recipe will make approximately 26 cookies.  I hope that you enjoy them as much as we do.

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
15 oz can of pumpkin (plain - not spiced)
1/2 cup of vegan chocolate chips

Directions:
1.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2.  Combine all the dry ingredients together (flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves).
3.  Thoroughly mix the pumpkin into the dry ingredients, making sure there are no pockets of dry ingredients that can be seen in the dough.
4.  Mix in the chocolate chips.
5.  Spoon dough onto a non-stick cookie sheet.  Each portion of dough should be around the size of a golf ball.
6.  Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 12 minutes.
7.  Cool and enjoy.  I think they are even better the next day, but sometimes it is hard to wait!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Foil Dinners

Foil dinners are a traditional campfire meal that can be made in advance and then cooked in the hot coals of a fire.  My mom used to prepare my dad and I these little packets of goodness to take when we went camping, and I remember loving them.  They are easy, simple, cheap, and fun to make.  They are also very tasty.

Cooking foil dinners, and making vegan s'mores for dessert is one of my kids' favorite activities. This past week we did this, and I want to share my recipe with you, along with a few pictures.

The recipe I'm sharing with you is very basic, and the bare minimum of ingredients for a good foil dinner (in my opinion).  I usually add other things into it, depending on what I have on hand, how creative I'm feeling, or what is in season.  For instance, this week, I used a purple onion my mother-in-law gave me from her garden, and added a medium tomato, 1 cup chopped mushrooms, and 1/4 cup of marinara sauce that I had on hand, into each packet.  I also used Kielbasa style sausage, which was great.  The tomato turned out great and added some moisture which will helped cook the other vegetables.  The marinara sauce made the packets very flavorful and saucy, but not so much that it was soupy.  My son and I also love mushrooms (but I left these out of my daughter's).

You can add peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, garlic, etc. along with a variety of different seasonings if you like.  It is fun to play around and see what turns out well for you.  Just be careful not to get too much in each packet, or you may have trouble sealing it up to cook.  Start out with this basic recipe and go from there.

Ingredients (for 1 packet):
2 large sheets of foil
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups potato, cut into small cubes or slices (~1 medium potato)
1/2 cup carrots, thinly sliced
1/4 cup onion, diced (~1/4 of an onion)
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/16 teaspoon garlic salt (a pinch)
A small sprinkle of pepper
~3.5 oz vegan sausage, sliced up (I like Tofurky brand.  Use one sausage per packet)
(Whatever other seasonings or ingredients you feel like adding)

Directions:
1.  Build a fire - you'll need some hot coals to cook these packets on.  I've heard you can also cook these in the oven or over a grill, but I imagine there is no better tasting packet than one cooked on a real fire.
2.  Take two large pieces of foil and stack them, one on top of the other.  You want 2 pieces so that there is less risk of the packet ripping and ruining your dinner in the fire.  If you have heavy-duty foil, you could maybe use one piece.
3.  Drizzle the olive oil onto the middle of the foil.  This helps prevent the food from sticking, and adds some moisture as well.
4.  Place the potatoes, carrots, onion, (and any other veggies) into the center of the foil.
5.  Spinkle the seasoned salt, garlic salt, (and any other seasonings) and pepper over the top of the veggies.
6.  Place the vegan sausage over the top of the veggies.  (Add any sauce such as marina over the top of this if you want)
7.  Seal up the packet.  I bring together two sides, and roll them tightly together, then roll up each of the remaining two sides to seal.  There is a great tutorial on this page about sealing up foil dinners.
8.  Place the foil dinner directly on the hot coals of your fire, and cook for ~30-45 minutes.  Minimum time will cook the potatoes and the food will be hot, and a longer time will brown the food and make some of it crispy/brown on the edges (which I like).
9.  Remove the foil packets from the hot coals by grabbing the top with an oven mit.  Let them sit for about 5 minutes.  This allows them to cool a bit so the steam won't burn you when opening.
10.  Open up the top, and eat right from the foil, or dump onto a plate or bowl if you prefer.

Monday, October 6, 2014

60-Minute Rolls






























This recipe is one we love!  It was adapted from a recipe originally given to me by my good friend Jimi (she maintains her own blog here).  Jimi is always sharing great recipes with me!  These rolls take less time than the frozen dough you can buy at the store, even if you use their 'quick-method.'


I love the smell of fresh-baked rolls.  These won't last long because they are so delicious.  My family and I enjoy them with Earth Balance spread and a bit of jam.









Ingredients:
1 cup soy milk, warmed up ~30 seconds in microwave
1/2 cup warm water
3 Tablespoons sugar
3 1/2 teaspoons quick-rise yeast
1 tsp salt
4 Tablespoons vegetable oil
3 1/2 cups flour
2 Tablespoons wheat gluten

Directions:
1.  Combine all ingredients, in order, in a bread machine and start 'dough' program.  Let it run for 5 minutes, adding a bit more water or flour if dough looks too dry or wet.  If you don't have a bread machine or something to mix it for you: combine ingredients in order, except flour and gluten, in a large bowl.  Mix flour and gluten together and add to other ingredients 1 cup at a time until all combined.  Knead for 5 minutes, adding a bit more water or flour if dough looks too dry or wet.
2.  Place the dough in a metal mixing bowl greased with a bit of vegetable oil or vegan margarine.  Place the bowl to rest in hottest tap water for 15 minutes, being careful not to get dough wet.
3.  Punch down the dough, and shape.  I use a kitchen scale and make 2.75oz balls of dough by cutting off some dough with my kitchen shears, weighing, then stretching the dough 2-3 times on the sides and pinching off the bottom before placing on a greased non-stick cookie sheet.  If you don't have a scale, make each ball of dough a bit larger than a golf ball.  This will make approximately 13 rolls (a baker's dozen!).  Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, while shaped dough rises for 15 minutes (about the same time my oven takes to preheat).
4. Bake rolls at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 12 minutes.





Monday, September 29, 2014

S'mores


As the cooler weather sets in, I am so glad we made the decision to transform our non-producing berry garden into a fire-pit!  We rearranged the blocks into a more fire-safe area in our yard, and have had many nights with a warm fire, and roasted vegan marshmallows since.  It is everything I like about camping - the cool air combined with the fire, the food, and spending time with my family.  When it starts to rain, we enjoy going back into our cozy home and sleeping in our dry comfortable beds.  No offense to those hard-core campers out there.  :-)



To make vegan s'mores  at our house, we use Dandies Vegan Marshmallows (which my kids and I agree are better tasting than traditional marshmallows).  We found these at our local Harmons grocery store (in Utah) or Whole Foods Market (slightly more expensive than Harmons).  You can use any vegan chocolate you like.  My favorite for s'mores is the Lindt Excellence 70% Cocoa squares.  They are dark, but not too bitter (my kids love them).  You take a freshly toasted marshmallow, a square of chocolate, and sandwich them between 2 squares of original (not honey) graham crackers.  Keebler brand 'original' are vegan.  Mmmmm..... such a wonderful autumn treat!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Tomato Basil Pasta



This is an easy dinner that I often throw together on those long days where I don't really feel like cooking.  This is my vegan 'box of macaroni and cheese' type meal.  Very little work, the whole family likes it, and it is ready in about 15 minutes from start to finish.  It is a one-pot meal, where you throw everything together and it cooks the pasta and makes the sauce at the same time.  You can easily add additional vegetables or mushrooms to the dish if you would like.  Cheap, easy, and vegan!  :-)

I use a can of diced tomatoes and dried herbs from my cupboard, but if you have fresh tomatoes and herbs, feel free to use them.  It would probably make it even better.  The standard conversion rate for herbs is 3 teaspoons of fresh = 1 teaspoon of dried.



Ingredients:
12-14 ounces pasta (just about any kind will work)
1 can (15oz) diced tomatoes with liquid (or ~2 cups of diced fresh tomatoes)
1/2 an onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, pressed (or minced if you don't have a garlic press)
1/8 teaspoon ground red cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves (or 2 Tablespoons of fresh chopped oregano leaves)
1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves (or 1 1/2 teaspoons of fresh chopped basil leaves)
4 1/2 cups vegetable broth (I use 4 1/2 cups water plus 1 1/2 Tablespoons of 'Better Than Bouillon')
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Vegan Parmesan cheese and/or nutritional yeast for topping (optional) - My favorite is from Cali's

Directions:
Combine everything in a stock pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low-medium and cook for 10 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes.  Then remove from heat and let sit for a few minutes.  Stir together so the sauce in the bottom evenly distributes through the pasta before serving.  Top with a bit of nutritional yeast or vegan Parmesan cheese if desired.


This recipe was adapted from a recipe I found floating around on Facebook.  I'm not exactly sure where the original came from, but it may have come from 'Donna' at http://www.apronstringsblog.com/.  That original recipe can be found here.


Monday, September 15, 2014

Peach Cobbler


The inspiration for this recipe came from an old neighborhood cookbook my mom bought for me when I was just a young kid.  I've tweaked and adjusted it over the years to become my own.  It is a great way to use peaches, berries, or any kind of fruit.  It works with fresh, canned, bottled, or frozen fruit.  You can even use a can of pie filling.  Your home will smell wonderful and you'll be eating a mouth-watering cobbler in only an hour, start to finish. 

Here's a tip if you have a lot of peaches to peel:  Boil pot of water and place ripe peaches into the water for 30 seconds.  Remove peaches and place into cold water.  The peels will slip right off.  I recently did this with a large number of peaches and it was so easy.  Afterwards, I made this cobbler, and then froze the rest for later.




Ingredients:
1/4 cup vegan margarine
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup soy milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups peeled, cut up peaches
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/16 teaspoon nutmeg


Directions:
1.  Place the margarine in the center of an 8x8 baking pan.  Put this in the oven to melt while your even heats to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2.  Mix together the flour, 1/2 cup of sugar, baking powder, soy milk and vanilla, making a batter.
3.  Place the peaches in a separate bowl.  If using canned or bottle fruit, drain them before placing in the bowl.  Sprinkle the peaches with 1 Tablespoon of sugar, the cinnamon and the nutmeg.
4.  Once the oven has heated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and the margarine has melted, remove the pan.  Pour the batter into the pan and then spoon the peaches evenly over the batter.  Resist the temptation to mix the batter and peaches together.  In other words - DO NOT STIR!
5.  Place the pan back into the oven and cook for approximately 45-50 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.


Monday, September 8, 2014

Brazilian Black Bean Stew

I recently discovered soy chorizo.  I found this product in a local grocery store, for only about $1 per a 10oz tube (inexpensive!).
    Soy chorizo has the texture of ground beef in a sauce with the perfect amount of spicy flavor.  I've heard of others using it as a marinade, and for vegan "Sloppy Jos├ęs."
I bought 2 tubes and cooked up one with some onions, garlic and cilantro for a tortilla chip topping.  The other, I made into this delicious stew.  Once I had the ingredients, I was able to throw everything together and cook it on my lunch break.  It is a bit salty, sweet, and spicy - and very satisfying.  This is a recipe that you can serve and nobody will guess it's vegan unless you make a point to tell them.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Ingredients:
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
10 oz (1 tube if using Calcique brand) soy chorizo
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
~1 pound sweet potatoes (2 small or 1 large), peeled and diced
1 large red bell pepper, diced
2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes with juice
1 1/2 cups water
2 (16 oz) cans black beans, rinsed well and drained
1 and 1/2 cups frozen mango chunks, diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:
1.  Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Cook the chorizo about 3 minutes.
2.  Add the onion and cook for ~4 minutes (until tender), then add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
3.  Add the potatoes, bell pepper, tomatoes with juice, and water.  Bring to a boil.
4.  Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 20-25 minutes (until potatoes are tender).
5.  Add the beans, mango, cilantro and salt and cook until heated through.

This recipe was adapted from a recipe by CRVGRL at allrecipes.com.  Original recipe can be found here.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Chocolate Birthday Cake with "Buttercream" Icing

For my family, August is the month of multiple birthdays. So, I've made 6 batches of this recipe during the past month, for birthday party cupcakes, and birthday cakes.  I love that this recipe does not require an egg-substitute.  Instead, balsamic vinegar and baking soda make the cake (or cupcake) light, fluffy, and delectable.  I also love that it is chocolaty, because I LOVE chocolate, and chocolate is vegan!

The icing is yummy as well.  I like to make my icing a bit thick, so that it holds its shape for decorating.  If you find that the frosting is too thin, you can always add more powdered sugar.  If it is too thick, add a tiny amount of soy milk until it is just right.

Combined together, this cake and icing make for the perfect birthday treat.  I hope you and your family enjoy them too.

(While preparing to write up the recipes for this blog, I learned that a dash is 1/8 of a teaspoon, a pinch is 1/16 teaspoon, and a smidgen is 1/32 of a teaspoon.  Good to know)

Cake Ingredients:
1 and 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup powdered cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 dash cinnamon (~1/8 of a teaspoon)
1 smidgen ground cayenne pepper (~1/32 of a teaspoon, or 1/4 of 1/8 of a teaspoon)
1 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Directions:
1.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
2.  Combine the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cayenne) into a mixing bowl.
3.  In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients (water, oil, vinegar, vanilla)
4.  Pour the wet ingredients into the middle of the dry ingredients and mix with a fork until smooth (not too much).
5.  For cupcakes - fill baking cups 3/4 of the way full and bake ~15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean (makes 15 cupcakes).  For cake - grease a pan with vegan margarine or line with parchment paper and bake ~35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean (makes a round 7.5" diameter and 1.75" high cake).  Times may vary depending on cake pan/size.

















Icing Ingredients:
1/4 cup vegan margarine, softened but not melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar

Directions:
1.  Wait until cupcakes or cake have completely cooled.
2.  Combine the margarine and 1 and 1/2 cups of powdered sugar in a mixing bowl.  Use a fork to mash/mix the margarine into the sugar, until it becomes frosting.
3.  Stir the vanilla into the frosting.
4.  Slowly mix the last 1/2 cup of powdered sugar into the frosting.
5.  Frost the cake or cupcakes immediately after mixing.


The cake recipe was adapted from a recipe by 'Sue' at allrecipes.com.  Original recipe can be found here.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Coconut Curry "Chicken"

Hello.... I am, Nate the Vegan.

Thanks for visiting.  This is a blog of my favorite recipes.  I love to cook simple, cheap, and easy vegan food for myself and my family.

I cater the tastes of my recipes to what I like, and what my family enjoys.  For example, you may notice that I never put in more than a few dashes of pepper.  My wife and kids are not big fans of black pepper.  If you are, of course you can add more.

I recently ordered some 'Butler Soy Curls' after enjoying many meals made with them at two of my favorite restaurants in Salt Lake City - Frisch and Buds (If you are ever in Salt Lake, I highly recommend visiting both of them).  My order of soy curls came today, so I had to try them.  The result was AMAZING - This is this recipe that I cooked tonight.  My son had two helpings and said, "Dad, I know you had to have put real chicken in this!"

For those that have never tried soy curls, they are perfectly textured like chicken, but made only from whole organic non-GMO soybeans.  You can find their website here if you'd like to order some for yourself.  I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did!

A word of caution before proceeding.  This recipe may cause your home to smell like wonderful Indian food for several days after making.


Ingredients:
8oz Butler Soy Curls (one package)
1 teaspoon salt
A few dashes of pepper
2-3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons curry powder
1/2 of an onion, chopped into small pieces
2 cloves garlic, pressed (or minced if you don't have a garlic press)
1 (14.5oz) can coconut milk
1 (14.5oz) can stewed diced tomatoes
1 (8oz) can tomato sauce
3 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons raisins (optional)

Directions:
1.  Soak the soy curls in warm water for 8 minutes.  Drain off water and cut any of the really long pieces into smaller chunks.  Set aside.
2.  Heat a couple Tablespoons of oil and the curry powder (in a large skillet or soup pot) over medium high heat.  Cook 5 minutes while stirring constantly.  If it begins to look too dry at any time before step 5, add a bit more oil.
3.  Add onion and cook for 4 minutes while stirring.
4.  Add garlic and cook for 1 minute while stirring.
5.  Add tomatoes and cook 3 minutes while stirring occasionally.  Reduce heat to medium.
6.  Add the soy curls and toss to coat.  Cook for 3 minutes while stirring occasionally.
7.  Add the coconut milk, tomato sauce, sugar, and stir together.  Simmer, uncovered for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add raisins, if desired, during the last 20 minutes of cooking.
8.  Serve hot over cooked rice.

This recipe was adapted from a recipe by 'ROMA' at allrecipes.com.  Original recipe can be found here.