Friday, December 21, 2012

Winter White Chili


  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 2 4-ounce cans chopped green chiles (opt)
  • 1-4 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 can each great northern beans, white lima beans
    and navy beans, rinsed
  • (or use 2 ¼ cups dried beans, soaked)
  • 4 cups reduced-sodium broth
  • 1-2 cups diced soy strips
  • 1 head of cauliflower, chopped up
  • salt, to taste (after beans have cooked)

    Add after cooking:
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  1. Heat oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, chiles, oregano, cumin and cayenne. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Stir in beans, cauliflower, soy strips and broth; bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. Add soy strips and vinegar; cook for 5 minutes more.  Add cider vinegar. Serve.

  2. Pressure Cooker method: Use dried beans. Soak in water the night before, pour off water and rinse before adding to soup. Cook onions in oil in bottom of pressure cooker, add garlic, stir, add herbs and spices. Add other ingredients, cook on high pressure for 10-12 minutes, slow release.

    Either method: For a thicker soup base, use an immersion blender in the pot or take some out and blend it.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Holiday Herbed Cheeze Ball

My sister used to make the greatest herbed cheese when my parents had a restaurant in Stockton, CA. I think we used it as a spread in a sandwich. (The restaurant was "St. George and the Duck" at St. Mark's Plaza for those who might remember it!) I was eating cheese in those days, still not realizing all that my dairy allergy entailed.

Fast forward to today, when I am a vegan with fond memories of herbed cheese and a longing to be able to eat a cheese ball at a party!

I've put them all together here. It might look fancy, but it's quite simple. You do need to plan ahead a little if you want to make it into a ball (it needs to firm up in the fridge), but you can even make and eat it in 10 minutes if you want to use it as a dip or spread. (Although the flavor is enhanced if you let it sit for a few days to really infuse the cheese with the herbs.)

You can use fresh herbs, but I've made mine with what I've got in the spice cabinet. All measurements are estimates since I just throw in what I think will work. You can adjust to your own tastes and contents of your spice cabinet!
Herbed Cheeze Ball
(Vegan, Gluten-free)

1 8 oz container non-dairy cream cheese
3 Tbs white wine (adjust amount for firmness)
1-3 tsp dried parsley
1-3 tsp dried rosemary
1-3 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1-4 Tbs dehydrated onion flakes (these will help to firm it up)

Coating (if you are making a ball)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts)
1/4 cup dried cranberries (optional)

Serve with crackers. (Serve with gluten-free crackers if you've got GF friends. I like rice crackers.)

Put the first seven ingredients in a bowl and mix well with a fork. You are done now if you want to serve it as a dip or spread right away or you can let it sit in the fridge.

To make the ball:
Place the mixture in the fridge for 1-3 days to firm up. The longer it sits, the more the flavors develop. If you have used the dehydrated onion flakes, they will help soak up the wine and make it firmer.

Just before serving (or the day of the party), take the mixture out of the fridge. With clean hands, roll it into a ball shape (this is the messy part), and then either:

1. Roll the ball in the chopped nuts, covering the ball well. Place on your serving tray.


2. Place the ball on your tray and arrange cranberries in two lines over and across the ball, like a ribbon on a package. You can even place a row along the bottom edge. Carefully apply chopped walnuts in the areas between the cranberries.

A note on serving: when I made this for a party at someone else's house, I put my "naked" cheeseball on a small circle of cardboard covered with tinfoil. That way I didn't have to apply the nuts to it on a big plate that wouldn't fit in my fridge. I could still fit it in a container (wrapped loosely in tinfoil) and I dressed my plate once I was at the party.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Tofu Stir-fry

Sometimes I forget that a stir-fry is my best choice on a busy day when I haven't planned much. I threw this together quickly, especially since I had extra cooked rice on hand (Tip #2 of the day: always cook extra rice to get you through a few days!)

Tofu Stir-fry

2 cups cooked brown rice
1/2 cup sliced carrots
2 cups spinach
1 package firm tofu, cubed
soy sauce

oil of choice (used coconut oil today for extra flavor for the frying, and a little toasted sesame seed oil)

Heat your pan, then add oil to coat pan.
Add carrots, cook for a few minutes. Add the tofu and brown it. Add in rice. Top with spinach, stir it in until it wilts. Ready to eat!

And of course, this is the kind of meal you can just about any left-over to. Just cut them up to nearly the same size and put the denser ones in first so they can cook longer. You can also make this oil-free by frying in water, not oil.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Easy White Beans

I bought a pressure cooker earlier this year and I've been having a lot of fun with it. I had to be convinced that it would not fulfill my mother's stories of her mother exploding a pot in her kitchen.

Jill Nussinow, the Veggie Queen, has a great pressure cooker cookbook out and this is based on one of her recipes.

These days, however, I don't always follow recipes, but just throw in some soaked beans, the right amount of water, some veggie broth powder, some onions and garlic and there you go, you've got tasty beans. On this day I added some spinach at the end to wilt it and tossed it over some pasta.

Yes, this is where I get my protein. (One of the many places...)

Monday, October 1, 2012

Vegan MOFO

I missed the deadline to be in the official blogroll, but I'll try to get in sometime today. I promise to blog daily about something vegan. Keep in mind I have two other blogs about being vegan, so please be sure to tune in to the one you enjoy the most! Or all of them! The third, and newest blog is just now trying to get up and running. She's still in "construction mode" but I promise tons of fun things. I'm thinking the new blog will get the most new posts since I really want to get her going.

So this is me being vegan on the internet:

1. It's a Cookbook!
All about easy veggie meals for yourself or someone you wish to impress.

2. The Vegan Reduction Project,
All about lo-cal and low-fat vegan meals or plans. Trying to lose weight as a vegan.

3. The Retro Vegan Cooks,
This incorporates my new love of all things retro–from the 1950s, 60s and early 70s. Dishes from old cookbooks reincarnated into healthier (maybe) but definitely vegan dishes of today. Will include pictures of my retro finds, clothes, dishes, etc. This blog is still in its infancy, but with Vegan MOFO, I'm hoping it will really get a solid start!

And just in case you really want to see MORE vegan blogs, check out the official blog-roll here:

Vegan MOFO,

Or check out their Facebook page here:

Happy vegan eating and reading!


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Easy Tomato Sauce

I have to admit, I'm not really a fan of tomato sauce anymore. Somewhere in my 40s my digestive system began having a difference of opinion with my palate. This is sad, especially since a nice marinara sauce on pasta used to be a stand-by for me at non-veg restaurants. But alas, wheat pasta is a no-no these days, too!

But, I do still serve a red sauce to my family, and especially to my daughter, who loves her pasta with either red sauce, pesto or just veg butter and yeast.

Since no one here really eats a lot of red sauce at any one time, we ended of up wasting most of any jar we would open up for either a meal or a snack. I dislike wasting food and I dislike wasting money even more!

I think I have finally found a solution to my problem! After buying a pressure cooker recently, I realized I could easily make a simple red sauce with the canned tomatoes I have on hand and dried and fresh spices. I could control the sugar and the oil. And, I had just purchased a box of vintage jam jars and lids at a garage sale (thinking I would make some jam from the crazy cherry-plum trees that line out driveway). I soon realized, though, that those jars were the perfect size for how much red sauce we might use, even over the course of a few days. (Experience has borne this out. They are perfect!)

I whittled down a recipe I found on the internet (she must have been making pasta sauce for a huge Italian family) and simply put this in my tiny jars (which have sort of been sterilized), let them cool, and then stuck them in my freezer to pop out only when needed.

Here's the recipe I came up with. Of course, like any good cook, you can add things you like. But if you suddenly find yourself trying to feed a veg'n and all you've got in the pantry is some old cheesey or meaty jar of sauce, you can whip this up in an instant for a fresh "chef made" taste. (You don't really even need to pressure cook this, you could also just blend fresh or canned tomatoes and your herbs. Really. It works. I've done it.)

Simple Tomato Sauce
(Make this "Raw Vegan" by using fresh tomatoes and no bay leaf)

3 cans tomatoes (I used diced)
1 can water
1 small can tomato paste or sauce
1-2 tbs dry veggie stock
1-3 tsp of fresh or dry herbs/spices: basil, oregano, chives, onion
1-2 cloves fresh garlic or 1/2-1 tsp garlic powder
1 bay leaf
salt to taste

Some red or white wine, vodka, veggies, olives, etc. Saute some onions first in oil or water.

Fresh raw: Just blend this in a blender. Serve.
Cooked on stove: combine all in a pot, simmer til hot or longer if you really want to reduce it and blend the flavors. Take out bay leaf before serving. (I used my pressure cooker. Around 15 minutes at pressure. Natural pressure release. Open lid away from you.)

I poured my sauce into small jam jars that I had boiled to sterilize. Since I wasn't being extra careful, I froze them instead of considering them "canned." Don't over-fill if you are freezing to allow for expansion.

Serve over regular pasta or rice or corn pasta for a fully gluten-free experience.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Easy Garden Wrap

My daughter attended a school with a terrific garden program from Kindergarten through 5th grade. The amazing teacher, Laurel Anderson, made sure the kids weren't just planting seeds or watering flowers. She had them FIXING and EATING the food that they grew. Once a week for two years, I had the pleasure of helping out with my daughter's class. Each week's class ended with a snack made by half the group and served to everyone. Because gardening is not just about plants. It's about food, cooking, sharing, serving, enjoying, discovery, health and community. Laurel got all that in in a 50 minute class.

One of the last meals we shared, and apparently one of the class' favorites, was the "Garden Wrap." It's presented here in a regular tortilla, but if you are gluten-free, you could use a rice wrap, nori or even just roll this up into a big piece of lettuce.

My daughter requests this dressing now. Laurel's original dressing called for yogurt, but I've veganized it to a soy or other-based yogurt with no problem. And because we now grow our own herbs at home, I can make this myself in the blink of an eye.


A wrap lends itself to any ingredients you have on hand.
These are my daughter's favorites. 

Harmony Garden Wraps

  Dressing (blend in blender)
  • 1/2 cup plain soy or other yogurt
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 handfuls of French sorrel (or other herbs- any bitter lettuce works)
  • 1 bunch chives
  • Herbs/salt – to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup -- 1/2 cup oil (optional)
Wrap Instructions:
  • Spread dressing on tortilla.
  • Sprinkle on sunflower seeds.
  • Grate a little carrot over it.
  • Add washed spinach/lettuce.
  • Roll it up carefully.
  • You can eat this whole, cut it in half or into little wheels if you are serving as an appetizer. 
That's a wrap!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Cultured Kitchen Cashew Cheese

I have fond memories of eating smoked cheddar cheese on crackers with my dad, who passed away just over nine years ago. I keep searching for a vegan version of that flavor and texture to get a little bit of that memory back. I found something new to try on a recent vacation.

Cultured Kitchen of Sacramento offers several vegan cashew cheeses and one is called "Smoked Cheddar." To be honest, it doesn't really hit the mark for what I remember, but it is a very tasty product and I am enjoying it thoroughly.

It comes in a tub and is more of a cheese dip or spread than anything you can slice. The ingredients are simple: raw cashews, cold smoked paprika, coconut aminos, Himalayan sea salt, spices and active cultures. It's vegan, raw and gluten-free. For now it seems to be available only in the Sacramento, Ca area and in a few stores and at local farmers' markets. I found it on a weekend trip while shopping at the Gluten-Free Specialty Store. This is an easy product to just set out with crackers or crudites.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Muhummara (Red Pepper and Walnut Dip)

I sadly accidentally erased my original post about this dip. 
You can see the version I started with at Epicurious

 Muhummara (Muhammara)
  • a 7-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained
  • 2/3 cup fine fresh bread crumbs (GF crumbs or ground Corn Thins)
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, toasted lightly and chopped fine
  • 2 to 4 garlic cloves, minced and mashed to a paste with 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons pomegranate molasses*
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 1/8 cup oil or none!
  • toasted pita triangles as an accompaniment
    (GF: tortilla chips, rice crackers, veggies, etc.)
*available at Middle Eastern markets. Reduced pomegranate juice will do or agave syrup.

Mix it all up in a blender/food processor and you have it! 
If you use the oil, add that after mixing other ingredients and drizzle while it blends.

This is very tasty and bright.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookie "Pi"

In honor of March 14 (yes I am one day late, but I made it yesterday!), this is my "pie" for "Pi Day."
It's a bit of a stretch, I know. It's really a giant cookie in a pie plate. But I think it counts. It's round, looks like a pie, and I really don't like pie all that much anyway.

And yes, that is my Big Bang Theory calendar. (March 14 also happens to be Einstein's Birthday! How about that for the "circle" of life?! Yes, that was a double funny.)

You can find the VERY simple recipe for it here:  

My notes on the recipe:
  1. I made it gluten-free with Bob's Red Mill GF mix plus 1 tsp xanthan gum and extra water.
  2. I used the olive oil as called for, but next time I would use canola or melted vegan butter.
  3. I used half agave and half maple syrup.
  4. I used half the chocolate chips called for since I was out of them and had to cut up a vegan chocolate bar.
  5. I added a 1/2 cup walnuts.
  6. I didn't use the coconut flakes. No one here would have liked that in this.