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February 20, 2013

Kitchen Sink "Thai" Curry

Hi everyone! I really apologize for being so remiss lately: my husband and I are expecting our first baby, and things have been very challenging, so needless to say, I haven't wanted to be anywhere near cooking, food smells, or even food in general for awhile! Please forgive my temporary hiatus! However, I am back (hopefully for good...we'll see how things progress, but even if I have to take little pregnancy breaks, rest assured that I will NOT abandon my blog for long! :)

So, this recipe came about entirely by accident: my wonderful mom flew out to NYC to take care of me when the baby was really giving me a run for my money, and for possibly the first time EVER, we had no real food in the house (thanks to being cooped up for months). Soooooo, we had to get creative. We dug out everything I had left in my fridge and pantry and I threw it all together. Imagine my surprise when it resulted in a fabulous-tasting sensory explosion! Thus, Kitchen Sink Curry was born. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

What You'll Need:

  • 1 tbsp. peanut oil
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 5 tbsp. commercial Thai Red Curry Paste (I like Thai Kitchen brand myself, but there are lots of good ones out there--or, if you're feeling adventurous, you can make your own!. FYI, the amount is subjective depending on how spicy you like your Thai food. This amount of curry paste will provide a nice, substantial, full-bodied-but-not-mouth-scorching spice. If you prefer it mild, back it up to 2 tbsp. curry paste)
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • 1 cup vegetable broth (commercial or homemade)
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. vegan fish sauce
  • 1 can chick peas, drained
  • 2 small cans crimini mushrooms (though any canned mushrooms will do), drained
  • 1 12-16 oz. package frozen broccoli
  • 1 8-12 oz. package frozen green beans
  • 1 12-16 oz. bag frozen mixed veggies of your choice (there are some great stir-fry mixes available that are particularly fitting for this recipe, but regular old peas-carrots-and greenbeans-mix will do just fine)
  • 2 6-8 0z. cans sliced water chestnuts, drained
  • 1 cup roasted, salted cashew nuts
  • cooked brown rice to provide a yummy base to soak up all the curry juices
What To Do:

First, dump all of the frozen and canned veggies and beans in a large colander and run warm water over them until they are mostly defrosted. Set aside. Then, heat the peanut oil in a large, nonstick wok or skillet (the bigger, the better--this recipe makes a lot!) over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and stir-fry for one minute, or until fragrant. Add the curry paste and stir-fry 1 1/2 minutes, or until fragrant. Quickly add both cans of coconut milk and veggie broth, and cook over medium-high heat until the mixture just begins to bubble. Add brown sugar and vegan fish sauce; blend well with a whisk.

Add the vegetable and bean mixture to the curry mixture and turn down the heat to medium. Simmer mixture for 10-15 minutes, or until veggies are cooked all the way through and fork-tender. Remove from heat and immediately sprinkle with cashews. Gently fold them in, and spoon curry over bowls of cooked brown rice for a delicious, super-healthy and satisfying meal! Enjoy!

Variation: add crispy tofu to this delectable dish by following the tofu preparation instructions in Crispy Hot Red Chile Tofu with Baby Greens, stopping after the tofu is pan-fried. Stir tofu into curry dish after adding the cashews and serve immediately so the tofu retains maximum crispness! 

October 12, 2012

Chunky Heirloom Tomato Piccata with Whole Wheat Pasta

This dish is incredible when made with home-grown heirloom tomatoes, as their contrasting flavors make for an extremely interesting sauce, but regular red store-bought tomatoes (or--in a pinch--even canned, chopped tomatoes) will also work as a base for this delicious sauce. Choose the tastiest imported olives you can find for this dish, as they contribute an immense amount of flavor to the finished product. If whole wheat pasta isn't your thing, feel free to swap it for regular or gluten-free pasta.

What you'll need:

  • 8-10 fresh heirloom tomatoes (or red, vine-ripened tomatoes if you can't get heirlooms), diced
  • 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. spicy red pepper flakes
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 cup mixed, imported olives, chopped finely (this is nowhere to skimp on money! Get the good olives!)
  • 4 tbsp. capers, drained
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1 lb. whole wheat pasta in any shape that will pick up the delicious chunks in this sauce (suggestions: rotini, fusilli, gemelli, orecchiette, radiatori, etc.). Long, thin pastas like spaghetti and linguine just don't do this sauce justice!

What to do:

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Once the oil is warm, add the garlic and stir frequently. When the garlic becomes fragrant (15-20 seconds), add the tomatoes, basil, oregano, red pepper, salt, and pepper. Bring the sauce to a gentle boil, and then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the olives, capers, and wine, mix in, and keep sauce warm over low heat while you prepare the pasta.

Bring a pot of salted water to boil and cook pasta as instructed. After draining the cooked pasta, divide into serving dishes and top with a generous helping of sauce. Enjoy!

October 8, 2012

Crispy Hot Red Chile Tofu Over Baby Greens

I have to tell you that this is my very favorite of ALL the tofu recipes I have come up with--it's absolutely delicious. You can control the heat by using more of less of the chile paste, but if you can tolerate spicy food, I find it far more flavorful with the full amount of chile paste. Served over a bed of  baby greens with a simple rice vinegar dressing, this dish is healthy, colorful, and divine! I have won over many a tofu dissenter with this recipe.

What You'll Need:

  • 2 Tbsp. white cooking wine
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp. water
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce.
  • 3/4 tsp. brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 pound extra-firm tofu, pressed, drained, and cut into thin 2-inch strips
  • 4-5 Tbsp. canola oil, and 1 tbsp. canola oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup minced green onions
  • 3 Tbsp. minced fresh garlic
  • 1-3 Tbsp. hot chile paste (depending on how hot you want it)
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh ginger
  • 10 cups organic baby greens
  • brown rice vinegar
  • toasted sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup toasted sesame seeds
What to do:

Cut the tofu into thin, 2 inch rectangles and set aside. In a small bowl, combine the wine, tomato paste, water, soy sauce, and brown sugar. Stir well and set aside.

Heat the canola oil over medium-low heat in a large frying pan. Mix the cornstarch with the salt, and dredge each tofu slice until thoroughly covered. Spread tofu slices evenly in oiled pan and brown until crispy (roughly 15-20 minutes on each side). Set aside.

Add 1 tbsp. of canola oil to the same frying pan and add the green onions, chile paste, ginger, and garlic and quickly saute for 15 seconds, stirring constantly. Immediately add the reserved tomato paste mixture and stir until well mixed. Quickly add cooked tofu slices and cook until thoroughly heated and coated with the sauce (about 3-4 minutes). Remove from heat.

Divide the baby greens equally among four bowls and drizzle with brown rice vinegar and toasted sesame oil. Top with several slices of the crispy, spicy tofu. Sprinkle each salad with toasted sesame seeds. Enjoy!

October 7, 2012

Quick and Easy Toffee

Toffee is one of my very favorite holiday candies, and since I can't get enough of it, I naturally had to come up with a vegan version that would satisfy the pickiest of holiday party-goers. This toffee is not only  delicious, but only takes about 20 minutes to make (not counting the refrigeration time), so you can whip up a batch in no time if you have unexpected dinner guests!

What You'll Need:

  • 2 cups finely chopped pecans
  • 1 1/2 packed vegan brown sugar
  • 1 cup stick vegan margarine
  • 1 12 oz. bag vegan semisweet chocolate chips
What to Do:

Grease the bottom and sides of a large cake pan (9x13 is perfect) with cooking spray. Spread the pecans evenly in the greased pan and coat the bottom. Heat the brown sugar and margarine to boiling in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil for 7 minutes, continuing to stir constantly. Immediately spread the hot mixture over the pecans in the pan. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the hot mixture and let them melt (this will happen faster if you put a cookie sheet on top of the pan to trap the heat). Using a spatula, spread the melted chocolate over the candy, coating the pan evenly.  Let set for 10 minutes. Cut the toffee into 1-2 inch squares while still warm, and then refrigerate uncovered for two hours, or until firm. Yummy!

Creamy Chocolate Truffles

So often, we vegans are left out of the dessert bar at holiday parties for fear of sneaky dairy products! However, by substituting yummy coconut milk for the usual heavy whipping cream, you can bring a dessert to your next party that will knock everyone's socks off!

What You'll Need:

  • 1 12 oz. package vegan semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 Tbsp. vegan margarine (I like to use Earth Balance)
  • 1/4 cup regular coconut milk (do not use a low fat or fat free version)
  • 2 Tbsp. liqueur if desired (kahlua, cherry, coffee, hazelnut, orange, etc.) 
  • Finely chopped pecans, if desired
  • Sprinkles or colored sugar, if desired
What to Do:

Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Then, melt the chocolate chips in a large pan over low heat, stirring constantly. Stir in margarine. Once it melts, remove from heat and all the liqueur and coconut milk. Refrigerate the mixture for 10-15 minutes, or until it can hold a shape. Roll the mixture into 1-inch balls and immediately roll them in chopped nuts or sprinkles. Freeze them for 30 minutes, but then let them come to room temperature before serving. Enjoy!

July 24, 2012

Fabulous Fiddleheads with Fresh Garden Herbs and Squash

Fiddlehead ferns--known more simply as "fiddleheads"--are the cutest little under-appreciated veggies you'll ever meet in a farmer's market! Sure, they have a very short growing season and require that you pull a teensy bit of fuzz off of them, but they're so worth the trouble if you'll just give them a chance. Here, I boost their natural tastiness with lots of fresh herbs and summer squash, so if you have a garden that's bursting at the seams, this will be your new favorite recipe!

What You'll Need:

  • 1-2 lbs. fresh, vibrant green fiddleheads (make sure they're bright, green, and very fresh! Once they start to go south, they get bitter)
  • 1/2 cup roasted garlic oil
  • 12 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 large red onion, diced
  • 2 small yellow summer squash, thinly sliced
  • 1 large zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp. fresh marjoram
  • 1 tbsp. fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp. fresh parsley
  • 1 tbsp. fresh oregano
  • 1 tbsp. fresh rosemary
  • salt and pepper to taste
What To Do:

First, you'll want to thoroughly clean all of the brown fibers off of the fiddleheads, lest they be too bitter to eat. There are several ways to do this, but the easiest is to simply pour them all into a brown paper bag and shake it like crazy. Then, dump the fiddleheads out and leave behind the brown residue that fell off. Repeat this process once or twice more as necessary, and then rinse the fiddleheads off. Now you're ready to cook!

Heat the garlic oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and onion and cook for about three minutes, or until garlic is fragrant. Add the fiddleheads, summer squash, and zucchini, and stir well. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until vegetables are lightly browned. Turn off the heat under the pan and stir in all fresh herbs. Add salt and pepper to taste, stir thoroughly, and serve immediately. Enjoy!

July 9, 2012

Smoky, Spicy Chorizo Chili

Though it's 85 degrees today, I had the oddest craving for this awesome chili! I invented it a couple of years ago when, unsatisfied with the premade vegetarian and vegan chilis out there, I decided there had to be a tastier way to enjoy healthier chili. Weeeellllll, there is! The secret to the sauce's delectable smokiness is the crumbled veggie chorizo--the delicious combination of herbs and spices make the chili complex and incredibly satisfying. Additionally, with all of the yummy, textured soy crumbles and beans I throw in, I've fooled a lot of omnivores into thinking they're eating "regular" chili con carne! But then, I'd put my chili up against the old meaty version any day! It's tastier, and a lot healthier, too!

What you'll need:

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium - large yellow onion, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp. finely chopped chipotles in adobo sauce (if you aren't a fan of spicy food, take this down to 1 tbsp.)
  • 1 package fresh or frozen soy crumbles
  • 1 package vegetarian chorizo (my personal favorite is "Soyrizo" because the spices are amazing!)
  • 1 tbsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp. chili powder
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 (28-oz.) can diced tomatoes, with their liquid
  • 3 cups cooked red kidney beans, drained
  • 1 1/2  cups booked black beans, drained
  • *note: you can always have some fun by mixing up the type of beans you use! Some stores sell great varieties called "stew beans" in a can that feature more than 10 types of beans, and these can be fun to use in your chili. Feel free to get creative!
What to do:

Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook for 5-7 minutes (until veggies are soft, but not brown). Add the soy crumbles and chorizo and cook for five more minutes, stirring constantly. Add chipotles, oregano, cumin, chili powder, and salt, and stir well to blend. Add the tomatoes and four cups of water. Simmer the chili uncovered over low heat for 45 minutes. Add the beans and simmer and additional 30 minutes. Garnish with fresh herbs, peppers, or soy cheese if desired. Enjoy!

July 2, 2012

Maui Wowie Salad

I LOVE LOVE LOVE all of the different textures and flavors in this salad: from the salty crunchiness of the chow mein noodles to the tart crispness of the bell peppers to the sweet silkiness of the mangoes,  this amazing combination of fresh, colorful ingredients will ignite a party in your mouth! This salad always makes me feel like I'm on vacation in the tropics. The yummy tropical fruits and macadamia nuts lend this dish a decidedly island-influenced flair (hence the name), and each time you think you've tasted everything it has to offer, you'll uncover a fabulous new flavor combination! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

What you'll need for the salad:

  • 10 cups mixed baby greens
  • 1/2 a fresh pineapple, cubed
  • 2 ripe mangos, cut into small chunks
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced into 1-inch strips
  • 1 orange bell pepper, sliced into 1-inch strips
  • 1/2 cup red onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrot
  • 1/2 bunch chopped green onions
  • 1/3 cup salted macadamia nuts, chopped
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1 cup egg-free crunchy chow mein noodles
  • Guava Vinaigrette (below)

What you'll need for the Vinaigrette:

  • 1/2 cup guava nectar
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 tbsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar

What to do:

First, toast the sesame seeds. Spray a frying pan with cooking spray and add 1/3 cup plus 1 tsp sesame seeds. Spray the seeds with cooking spray and cook slowly over medium heat, stirring frequently, until seeds turn brown and become very fragrant. Remove from heat immediately, and set aside.

Divide greens evenly between two bowls for entree-sized salads or four bowls for side salads. Working your way down the list, divide each ingredient evenly between each of the bowls.

 (Here is the salad with ingredients up through the shredded carrot added)

After you have layered every single ingredient on, down to the sesame seeds and crunchy noodles, make the vinaigrette.

Simply combine all ingredients in a dressing bottle or tupperware and shake thoroughly to combine. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad and serve immediately. Enjoy!

June 18, 2012

Aromatic and Savory Roasted Artichokes

Artichokes are one of my absolute FAVORITE vegetables: not only are they incredibly tasty, but they're a blast to eat! From plucking each leaf from the choke to scraping off the good stuff with your teeth to digging through the furry parts to get to the tastiest often do you get free reign to play with your food after the age of 8? Sadly though, artichokes are widely underused, and many folks don't feel comfortable buying them fresh because they're not quite sure how to cook them. Roasting them (especially in this marinade) not only maximizes their natural deliciousness, but gives them a delightful texture too. Bonus: when these are in your oven, your kitchen will smell AMAZING!

What you'll need:
  • 4 fresh artichokes
  • the juice of two fresh lemons
  • 1 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 15 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground pepper

What to do:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. After thoroughly washing the artichokes, slice off the top 1/4-1/3 of each artichoke (this part is inedible, so you're not wasting anything). Then, slice the stems off right at the base so the artichokes can sit up by themselves.

Place each artichoke in the center of a large square of heavy duty aluminum foil.

To prepare the marinade, mix lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, parsley, salt, and pepper with a whisk until thoroughly combined. First, set aside 1/2 cup of the marinade for dipping later on. Evenly divide the remaining marinade between the four artichokes and be sure to thoroughly coat every surface, inside and out (I find it works best to spoon the marinade onto the top of the artichokes and then use a basting brush to work the sauce deep into every crevice). Once they are suitably coated with the marinade, wrap each artichoke tightly in its foil square. Place the foiled artichokes on a cookie sheet to catch the juices, and roast them for one hour. When they are finished, remove the foil and serve immediately with the remainder of the marinade for dipping. Enjoy!

May 24, 2012

Quinoa Blueberry Spice Bread

Quinoa Blueberry Spice Bread

Quinoa is a fabulous food: not only is it tasty, but it's one of the only vegetable sources considered a "complete protein." However, it can be a bit intimidating, and there aren't a lot of recipes out there yet. Furthermore, most of the ones that ARE out there are variations on the quinoa-with-veggies-mixed-in theme. So, I thought I would try something a little different. This bread is very tasty, very healthy, not too sweet for breakfast, but not too dull for dessert! It has a delicious crumb topping reminiscent of a fruit crisp, and is packed with sweet blueberries. I hope you enjoy it!

What you'll need for the bread:

  • 2 tbsp. ground flaxseed
  • 1 cup plus 6 tbsp. water, divided
  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa of any variety
  • 1 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 cup white flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 ripe banana (the blacker the better)
  • 3/4 cup soy milk
  • 3 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2-3 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (if frozen, thaw before using)
  • 1/2 cup chopped, toasted pecans

What you'll need for the crumb topping:
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour ( for a little added health benefit!)
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup vegan margarine, softened
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg 

What to do:

 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a bread pan or 8x8 cake pan with cooking spray. First, whip the ground flaxseed and the six tbsp. water briskly for at least three minutes, or until it reaches a thick, egg-like consistency. Bring the remaining cup of water to a boil and add dry quinoa; reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes until the water has evaporated and and the quinoa is fluffy.

Meanwhile, combine the dry ingredients--flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt--in a separate bowl.  In another bowl, combine the ripe banana with the milk, sugar, and vanilla; add to flaxseed mixture and blend thoroughly. 

Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and then add the quinoa and blend well. Then, fold in the blueberries and nuts. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Now, let's make the topping! In a food processor or large bowl, combine all ingredients until very crunbly and uniformly moist. Sprinkle it evenly across the top of the batter. Bake bread for 35-45 minutes, depending on whether or not you prefer slightly gooier bread (ME!!) or well-done bread (my husband). Enjoy!

May 23, 2012

Mexican Chile-Lime Adobo Corn on the Cob

Mexican Chile-Lime Adobo Corn on the Cob

Corn on the cob is a fabulous treat prepared just about any way, but if you're craving a little variety, try this on for size! When I bring this to picnics, it always disappears in a flash. This corn is incredibly flavorful and a little bit spicy, but not overwhelmingly so. However, you can control the heat by controlling the amount of adobo sauce you use. This recipe is also easy to double or triple for a large crowd!

What you'll need:

  • 6 ears fresh corn on the cob with husks still intact
  • 3 fresh limes (2 fresh lemons will also work--the flavor is very similar, and just as delicious!)
  • 1 can chiles in adobo sauce, opened
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) vegan margarine
  • salt and pepper to taste
What to do:

Bring a very tall pot of water to a rolling boil. While the water is heating, husk the corn, removing all silk and greens. Try to preserve the stem for easier management later. Once the water boils, place the corn cobs vertically into the pot for exactly five minutes--be sure NOT to overcook the corn! It's easy to do, and destroys the sweetness and plumpness of the corn. Remove the corn from the pot immediately and set on a heat-resistant surface. Immediately rub them thoroughly with the stick of margarine until each cob is nicely coated. Then, crush the limes over the corn, drizzling the fresh juice evenly over each cob. When they are coated, use a barbecue or silicone brush to paint a thick layer (or thin layer, depending on your tolerance for spicy food) of adobo sauce on each corn cob. Lastly, sprinkle each cob with salt and pepper and serve immediately. Enjoy!

May 22, 2012

Dragon's Breath Savory Garlic Bread

Dragon's Breath Savory Garlic Bread 

Ok, this one is going to have you shouting--with SERIOUS flaming garlic breath--"who needs cheese?" This garlic bread is so loaded with delicious complementary flavors that you will never even notice the absence of cheese. You can play with the amount of garlic, depending on your tastes, but if you can handle a lot of it, more is better, in my personal opinion! Of course, I would put garlic on everything short of chocolate...and when I think of a way to do that, I'll let you know!

What you'll need:

  • 1 large loaf of freshly baked bread (My favorite is a large seed or grain bread, but others prefer french bread, either plain or whole wheat)
  • 1 cup vegan margarine
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 12-16 cloves minced garlic
  • garlic salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • onion salt (optional)
What to do:

Preheat the broiler to its highest setting. In a small saucepan (or a microwave if you absolutely must), melt the margarine over low heat. While it's melting, slice the bread into desired serving sizes and arrange them on a cookie sheet covered with foil. Once margarine has melted, remove from heat and immediately add minced garlic and parsley. Mix well. Using a silicone or barbecue brush, paint each of the bread slices with a nice, thick layer of the margarine mixture. Gently sprinkle each slice with garlic salt, pepper, and onion salt if you wish. Place the bread on the highest oven rack, and broil for 2-4 minutes, checking frequently (ovens are all different, as are broiler heat levels, so it's important to keep a very close eye on your bread so it doesn't burn!). Enjoy!

May 21, 2012

Pumpkin Ravioli with Sage Browned Butter Sauce

Pumpkin Ravioli with Sage Browned Butter Sauce

I very often get requests for a sauce that pairs well with squash and root vegetable pastas, like butternut, pumpkin, or sweet potato ravioli, gnocchi, and tortellini. This sauce can be used for any of the above, and is delicate enough to complement a large variety of stuffed pastas when red sauce is either not an appropriate choice, or when you're just plain tired of it!

What you'll need:
  • 1 package fresh pumpkin ravioli
  • 1/2 cup vegan margarine
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh sage leaves
  • 3 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
What to do:

Bring a pot of water to a boil. While it's heating, melt the margarine in a medium sized saute or frying pan over medium heat. Add sage, brown sugar, and nutmeg, stir thoroughly, and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 5-10 minutes, or until the sauce reaches desired consistency. Be very careful not to burn it though! It does NOT taste good crispy!

While the sauce is simmering, add the ravioli to the boiling water and cook according to package directions. When finished, drain and arrange evenly on several dishes. Drizzle the sauce over the ravioli and enjoy!

May 20, 2012

Cherry-Berry Crumble

Cherry-Berry Crumble

This is a quick and easy dessert to whip up when guests are coming! It looks impressive, tastes great, and leaves you plenty of time to mingle. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and voila, perfection!

What you'll need for the filling:
  • 30 ounces of fresh or frozen (about three bags) of cherries
  • 10 ounces of fresh or frozen (about one bag) of mixed berries
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar

What you'll need for the topping:
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup chopped, toasted nuts (I like pecans best for this recipe, but any kind will work)
  •  1/2 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup cold vegan margarine
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
What to do:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium sized bowl, combine all of the fruit, cinnamon, and brown sugar. Pour the mixture into a square 8x8 or 9x9 ungreased pan.

To make the topping, combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until crumbly. Evenly sprinkle the topping over the fruit and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown. Enjoy!

Summer Fresh Strawberry Tart

Summer Fresh Strawberry Tart

This delicious tart takes advantage of summer's glorious fresh strawberry crop. As beautiful as it is delicious, it has all the components of a perfect tart: buttery graham crust, creamy middle layer, fresh berries, and a fabulous glaze to top it all off!

What you'll need for the crust:
  • 50 honey graham crackers
  • 3 tbsp. sugar
  • 3 tbsp. melted vegan margarine (I recommend Earth Balance sticks)
  • 5 1/2 tsp. water
What you'll need for the tart filling:
  • 1 cup vegan cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 6 cups fresh strawberries, washed and hulled
What you'll need for the glaze:
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries, washed and hulled
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp. toasted sliced almonds
What to do:

First, let's prepare the crust. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put the graham crackers in a food processor and grind them into fine crumbs. While pulsing the food processor, slowly add the sugar, margarine, and water. When thoroughly combined and moist, press the mixture firmly into an 11-inch tart pan with a removable bottom, coated with cooking spray. Be sure to cover the bottom and the sides of the pan. Bake in preheated  oven for 10 minutes, or until the crust is lightly browned. Set crust aside to cool.

To make the tart's filling, combine the cream cheese, sugar, and extracts with a hand blender (you can do this by hand if you wish, but it takes a LOT of effort!). Spread the filling evenly over the bottom of the pie crust.

Arrange the fresh strawberries top-down over the creamy filling until the tart is completely covered. To make the glaze, puree the cup of strawberries in a food processor and pour into a small saucepan over medium heat. While the mixture is heating, add sugar and cornstarch. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, and reduce heat to low. Cook for one minute, still stirring, and then remove from heat. Once it has cooled, drizzle it over the tart. Enjoy!

Gourmet Greek Salad with White Wine and Herb Vinaigrette

Gourmet Greek Salad with White Wine and Herb Vinaigrette

This delicious salad gives you a great excuse to use tons of summer's bountiful vegetable crop! This can be used as a main dish or a perfect side salad for a yummy mediterranean meal. It's also quite beautiful with its many colors!

What you'll need for the salad:
  • 10 cups mixed organic greens
  • 2 cucumbers, sliced into thin rounds
  • 2 heirloom tomatoes (regular tomatoes are fine if you can't fine heirloom), cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 orange bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1/2 large red onion, diced
  • 3/4 cup mixed fancy olives (like kalamata or nicoise), pitted and sliced

What you'll need for the "feta cheese":
  • 1/2 lb. firm tofu
  • 1/8 cup water
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • a pinch dried oregano
  • a pinch italian seasoning
  • a pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
  • freshly ground pepper to taste

What you'll need for the dressing:
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • freshly ground pepper to taste

What to do:

First, bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the tofu and cook for one minute. Drain it immediately and set it aside to cool. While it's cooling, blend all other "feta cheese" ingredients together in a large bowl. When tofu is cool enough to handle, crumble it into the marinade you have created and let it sit for at least an hour (you can make this in advance and let it sit overnight if you'd like).

Then, combine all dressing ingredients in a dressing bottle or other suitable container and shake furiously to combine. Set aside and let the flavors blend while you prepare the salad.

Arrange the salad greens in two (for main dish) or four (for side dish) bowls. Evenly divide all remaining salad ingredients into each of the bowls. Sprinkle a little of the marinated "feta cheese" onto each salad, and top it with your desired amount of dressing. Enjoy!

Roasted Garlic and Herb Asparagus, Leeks, and Brussels Sprouts

Roasted Garlic and Herb Asparagus, Leeks, and Brussels Sprouts

Ok, I know brussels sprouts have a bad reputation as every child's (and some adults) most hated food, but trust me--make them this way, and they'll quickly become a mealtime favorite. Hopefully asparagus and leeks don't fall into the "most hated" category for you, but prepared with the sprouts, they are a fabulous combination. I cook them together, but serve them separately as pictured (though, this is really not necessary if you like all of the vegetables; I just do it in case I have guests who don't like one or the other, but I have to tell you, I've swayed many a naysayer with these little beauties!).

What You'll Need:
  • Roughly 2 lbs. fresh brussels sprouts
  • 1 large bundle asparagus
  • 2 large leeks
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 6-9 cloves freshly pressed garlic (depending on how garlicky you feel today)
  • 3 tbsp. Italian Seasoning
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. pepper

What to do:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl or ziploc bag (these make things so much easier, and they're reusable if you wash them immediately!), combine all ingredients and combine thoroughly (this is where a ziploc bag and a good shake works best). Arrange the vegetables on two cookie sheets or jelly roll pans. Roast in the oven for 30-35 minutes, stirring once halfway through baking time. Vegetables should be browned on the outside and soft on the inside. Enjoy!

May 9, 2012

Tropical Mango-Avocado Salad with Pineapple-Mango Vinaigrette

Though this recipe may seem to suggest an odd combination of flavors, the marriage of sweet mango and strawberry, buttery avocado, pungent red and green onion, and tangy tropical vinaigrette is nothing short of sensational! One bite of this salad, and you'll be transported straight to the Caribbean Islands. It's absolutely crucial that you use VERY ripe mangos and avocados for this yummy dish (unripe fruits will not deliver the amazing flavor sensation that makes this salad special). This recipe makes enough for two large entree-sized salads or four side salads. Enjoy!

What you'll need for the salad:

  • 10 cups mixed organic greens
  • 2 very ripe mangos (if you want to be extra creative, use two different types of mangos! An especially good combination is sunset-colored Haitian mangos and yellow Honey mangos) peeled, seeded, and chopped into roughly 1-inch pieces
  • 2 Hass or other large variety avocados, peeled, seeded, and chopped into small squares
  • 1 small red onion, peeled and sliced into thin rings
  • 1/2 bunch green onions, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup chopped, roasted macadamia nuts or almonds
  • 6 large strawberries, stemmed and thinly sliced

What you'll need for the vinaigrette:

  • 1/4 cup pineapple juice (fresh is best, but canned will do in a pinch)
  • 1/4 cup green lemon olive oil (regular extra-virgin olive oil will work too, but it won't have quite the same citrusy kick)
  • 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. mango vinegar (if you can't find this, just use more red wine vinegar)
  • 1/2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar
  • a pinch of salt and pepper to taste
What to do:

Divide mixed greens evenly between two (entree salad) or four (side salad) bowls. Evenly divide all other  salad ingredients--mangos, avocados, red onion, green onion, nuts, and strawberries-- between the salad bowls. Set aside while you prepare the salad dressing.

In a dressing bottle or small bowl, combine all vinaigrette ingredients and shake or mix until thoroughly blended. This vinaigrette tastes best when served at room temperature, so pour your desired amount of dressing on the salad and serve immediately. Leftover vinaigrette can be kept in the refrigerator for up to five days. 

April 23, 2012

Decadent--but not diet-killing--Butternut Squash Soup

Creamy, dreamy butternut squash soup is one of my very favorite things about autumn. The rich, delectable blend of flavors is irresistible. The only problem is that, when this favorite of comfort foods becomes a little TOO comforting and I eat three bowls of it, I have to live with the terrible guilt of having consumed very fattening and almost undoubtedly non-vegan fare. So, I came up with this delightful, guilt-free version of my own. It is every bit as flavorful and creamy as the "regular" versions, but has none of the fat (particularly, animal fat) and a fraction of the calories. I can't keep my husband out of it! I hope you love it as much as we do!

What you'll need:

  • 1 tablespoon organic canola oil
  • 1 cup chopped vidalia or yellow onion
  • 2 - 3 cloves minced fresh garlic
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cloves
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 6 cups vegetable stock or broth
  • 2 1/2 lbs. fresh butternut squash, peeled, cored, and diced (since peeling and dicing this squash is definitely the most time-and-energy-consuming part of this recipe, nobody will think less of you for buying the pre-peeled and chopped kind! It even comes organic now)
  • 4 ripe Bartlett pears, peeled, cored, and diced (feel free to experiment with the types of pears you use--they can change the flavor of the soup in unexpected and interesting ways!)
  • 1/2 a 16oz. package of silken tofu
 In a Dutch oven or large soup pot, heat the canola oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook, stirring frequently until soft and fragrant (about 5 minutes). Quickly (it's better if you have these ingredients pre-mixed and ready to toss in at a moment's notice) add the garlic, brown sugar, cumin, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, and cook for just 30 seconds, stirring constantly.

Add the veggie stock, squash, and pears. Bring the mixture to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 30 minutes (or until squash is very tender). Remove the soup from heat and add the tofu. Puree the mixture using an immersion/hand blender, and enjoy! If you don't have an immersion blender, I suggest you buy one, as they are inexpensive and super-duper handy, but you can definitely get around this by using a regular blender, so worry not!

*A note about spices: for my beloved readers who have not yet discovered the joys of using organic cooking spices, I just want to urge you to buy a couple of your very favorites and give them a try; compare the scent, color, and most importantly, flavor, against their non-organic counterparts, and I absolutely guarantee you'll be impressed! One of the easiest things you can do to make your cooking taste more gourmet is to upgrade to organic spices. I've also found that they don't have to be cost-prohibitive! At Fairway in NYC, I find them for $3 a bottle! Awesome! So give it a shot--you won't be disappointed.

Great Grains Medley with Chickpeas and Leeks

This delectable blend of pearl barley, a variety of brown rices, and bulgur--brought alive with delicious seeds and herbs--makes this an incredibly tasty side dish (or meal!), and a really healthy addition to your day--not to mention the fact that the explosive blend of textures and flavors makes for a little party in your mouth!

What you'll need:

  • 6 teaspoons organic canola oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seed kernels, unsalted
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 2 teaspoons vegan margarine (as usual, I recommend Earth Balance)
  • 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced leek (about 1 1/2 large leeks)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups organic vegetable broth (homemade always tastes the best, but there are some great vegan brands on the market too if you just don't have the time)
  • 3/4 cup uncooked pearl barley
  • 1/2 cup brown rice variety blend (the wilder, the better! Go nuts!)
  • 1/2 cup uncooked bulgur
  • 1 can organic chick peas
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • optional: fresh basil leaves for serving (see photo)
What to do:

Heat a Dutch oven or very large frying pan (with a lid) over medium-high heat. Once the pan is sufficiently heated (test this by flicking a single drop of oil into the pan; if it sizzles, your pan is ready to go!), add 3 teaspoons of the canola oil, the sunflower seeds, and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Stir frequently together for about three minutes, or until lightly browned and fragrant. Remove them from the pan and set aside for now.

Reheat your pan over medium heat this time, and add the remaining 3 teaspoons of oil, plus the vegan margarine. Once they melt, stir in the leek slices and cook for approximately 5 minutes, or until tender. Stir them frequently to keep them from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Then, add the water, vegetable broth, pearl barley, and brown rice blend, and bring the mixture to a rolling boil. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 35 minutes. Stir in the bulgur; re-cover and cook for another 10 minutes, or until the grains are tender and all the liquid is absorbed. Don't give in to the temptation to turn up the heat at this stage--it will only crispy-fry the bottom of your rice, turning it black and giving the rest of your dish a nasty flavor! Be patient, and keep the heat nice and low for fluffy, perfect rice. 

Once your rice looks just the way you want it (make it to your preference: pull it off the heat sooner if you like soupier rice, or cook it longer if you like drier rice), remove it from heat and stir in the sunflower seeds, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, parsley, chick peas, and pepper to taste. Stir and enjoy!

Presentation tip: For a special occasion (or if you're just feeling fancy!), trim each mound of the grain medley with a circle of basil leaves, and stick an extra sprig right in the center (see photo). It looks beautiful, and tastes delicious too!