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from La Dolce Vegan! by Sarah Kramer

1/4 c flour
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 c “milk”
faux chicken (recipe follows)
3-4 tbsp olive oil (I used canola)

In a shallow dish, stir together the flour, paprika, salt, and pepper. Set aside. In a small bowl, pour “milk” and set aside. Dip “chicken” into flour, then dip in “milk,” and then into the flour again. In a large frying pan on medium-high heat, fry “chicken” in oil until well browned on both sides. Makes 2 large or 4 small servings.

Faux Chicken
1 recipe basic instant gluten
2 c water
1/4 c nutritional yeast
2 tbsp tamari
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp celery seed

In a large saucepan, bring all of the broth ingredients to a boil. Slice gluten into 4-6 pieces. Drop carefully into broth. Reduce heat and cover with lid. Let simmer 50-60 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until broth has reduced completely.

I’ve been eyeballing this recipe ever since I made my first batch of “wheat meat.” This was the type of recipe that really got me going for chicken when I was little- it is so reminiscent of the baked chicken my mom made as an alternative to fried. But it’s fried! This is probably the second thing I’ve fried- in my 30-plus years here on this earth; the first being a batch of donuts my sister and I cooked up on the d-low while my parents were out of the house. Naughty! Fried food was saved for special occasions, so it’s generally off my radar. I don’t even know how to properly dispose of the oil! I went easy on it for this batch, so that I could just send it down the drain with suds. There was definitely a resting period on some paper towels to eliminate the excess oil between frying pan and plate. Once it got to my plate, I couldn’t photograph it fast enough. Good thing it retained its heat! As I was eating it, I made sure to slow down and really savor every bite- it was DIVINE. Crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside… it’s going to be tough to resist making this each time it’s faux meat making day.
Now- about the recipes. I like to make my faux meats in big batches. Spending a few hours in the kitchen is a big commitment, so I want to get a lot out of it. I made eight batches this time! In two pots. I had a pot of “beef” and a pot of “chicken.” I’ve also tried the “ham” from this book, and it’s really REALLY good. Smoky and authentic. The faux “turkey” was really good in a Shepherd’s Pie that I made a while back.  The “fish” I didn’t much care for, but Mike liked it. (BTW of all my cookbooks, I’d say this one gets the most use. Really, if you’re going vegan cookbook shopping, this is the one for quick and easy yummies.) It’s pretty easy to divide up the basic instant gluten recipe among a few pots of broth, and I highly recommend doing it. You save SO MUCH money over buying seitan in the store, and the taste and quality is so much better.
Once you have your “chicken” breasts all ready to go, the fried “chicken” recipe is really easy, and fast. And to think I was always afraid of frying food. Just make sure you have some greens to balance out the guilt!

from The Garden of Vegan by Tanya Barnard and Sarah Kramer

1 medium onion, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 tbsp dark sesame oil
3 1/2 c cooked or canned chickpeas
1 14-oz can crushed tomatoes (I used fire roasted)
5-6 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp dry mustard
1/8 tsp cayenne
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp Braggs
2 c vegetable stock
2 tbsp tahini
1/4 c fresh parsley, minced

In a large soup pot on medium heat, saute the onions, garlic, and carrots in oil until the onions are translucent. Add the chickpeas, tomatoes, cumin, mustard, cayenne, pepper, vinegar, Braggs, and stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 15-20 minutes or until carrots become tender. In a blender or food processor, blend 1/2 of the soup and tahini until smooth (be careful when blending hot liquids); return to pot. Stir in parsley and serve. Makes 4 servings.

Here is a list of reasons that this is my new favorite soup.
1. Sun-dried tomato chunks.
2. Beans!
3. I love the opportunity to use my immersion blender.
4. Perfect balance of sweet and savory. I think the fire-roasted tomatoes really added to that.
5. Thick and stew-like; with just a bit less vegetable stock, it could be a rice topper. (Beans and rice!)
6. The rest of the chunks. Not just of sun-dried tomatoes, but of the carrots and bean too.
7. It’s good for you!

from The Garden of Vegan by Tanya Barnard and Sarah Kramer

Decadent Brownies

1 1/2 c flour
1/2 c cocoa powder
3/4 c dry sweetener
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 c soy milk
1/3 c olive oil
1/2 c nuts (your choice), chopped

Preheat oven to 350F. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, sweetener, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the soy milk, oil, and nuts. Stir gently until “just mixed.” Pour mixture into a lightly oiled 8×8 baking pan, and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Makes 8-16 brownies, depending on how you cut them.

I didn’t set out to make two batches of brownies… it’s just that the first recipe really didn’t scratch the brownie itch I was feeling. Don’t get me wrong, the above recipe was indeed tasty and well received by my house guests, but they were too cakey for this dense brownie lovin’ girl. They were just like chocolate cake… granted I haven’t made a lot of brownies in my life, but would you peep that tower of a brownie? Looming over my Coconut Bliss was not how I’d pictured my dessert. I opted out of the nut invitation, due to allergies among our guests, and they were still tasty. I would definitely return to this recipe when seeking out a smaller chocolate cake. On to the batch of brownies I made later that week for a friend’s birthday celebration:

from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero

Midnight Brownies (a variation of the Espresso Fudge Brownies recipe)

3 oz semisweet baking chocolate, chopped
5 tbsp nonhydrogenated margarine (like Earth Balance)
2/3 c sugar
1/3 c nondairy milk
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 c plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp Dutch cocoa powder
2 tbsp black cocoa powder (I couldn’t find this so I used regular cocoa powder)
a pinch of salt

Line an 8×8-inch square metal brownie pan with enough aluminum foil so that it folds over the sides of the pan by about an inch. Spray the bottom of the covered pan with a little nonstick cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350F.

Place the chocolate and margarine in a large glass mixing bowl. Microwave at 50 percent power for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes until the chocolate is soft enough to melt into the melted margarine when stirred with a rubber spatula. Stir until smooth, add the sugar, and stir again to combine.

In a liquid measuring cup, vigorously whisk together the nondairy milk, cornstarch, and vanilla until foamy. Stir this into the chocolate mixture, using the rubber spatula, until completely combined. Sift in the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder, and salt and fold into the chocolate mixture until moistened. A few small lumps are okay; do not over-mix. Scrape the batter- getting as much as possible- into the prepared pan and smooth it out evenly to the edges of the pan.

Bake for 22 to 24 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out mostly clean with a few moist crumbs (but no gooey batter). Place pan on a wire rack to cool for at least 30 minutes, if possible allowing the brownies to cool completely before serving. Slice into 12 brownies. Store in a tightly covered container.

Now THESE are what I was after. No cakiness here, the few crumbs are sticky and dense. No frosting or Coconut Bliss needed (though still welcomed. Especially heavenly with this, ungh!). And they would be really good with walnuts, if that happens to be your style. Next time I might try the mint variation offered.
This was quite the learning experience- comparing the recipes is really interesting to me- the wet to dry ingredient ratio should have been more obvious to me, but now I know! Each brownie had her strengths. Tall girl was great for soaking up her melting toppings, whereas Shortie satisfied me like the many slices of berry pie, oranges and tall glasses of herbal iced tea did while I was pregnant. And if you’ve ever been pregnant…

from How it all Vegan! by Tanya Barnard and Sarah Kramer

4-5 medium potatoes, cubed
1/8 c olive oil
8 cloves garlic, minced (Eek! I only had 5. The shame!)
2 tsp sage
2 tbsp rosemary
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 400 F. Place the cubed potatoes in a medium bowl and add the rest of the ingredients and stir together. Lay evenly onto a cookie sheet or lasagna pan and bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes, until potatoes are golden brown and can be easily pierced with a fork. Makes 4-6 servings.

I’ve been craving a good Breakfast For Dinner for some time now, but since I’m so into having Breakfast For Breakfast as well, I can’t really in good conscience bring myself to make pancakes for dinner. Where would I get my veggies for the day? I tend to get most of my veggies in the afternoon and evening meals. I’m just not a Green Smoothie For Breakfast kind of gal like my sister is, unless I’m visiting her and she’s the breakfast maker. But I couldn’t stop thinking about it! So I broke down and bought the bag of little yellow potatoes, those buttery little gems that I tend to eat way too many of. Then I found this simple recipe…. which could be changed in so many different ways for different veggies or flavors. Like I said, I didn’t have enough garlic, but they were still really good! I used fresh rosemary and sage, perhaps 2-3 times what it called for, and it was perfect. I also used really chunky sea salt. Yum! The amount of oil called for is perfect. Just enough to coat the taters without making them greasy.
Now, what to pair my potatoes with? I came up with this super tasty scramble using the BEST VEGAN CHEESE SUBSTITUTE. EVER. Bean and I found it while we visited her in the Bay Area, and I hoped that I’d find it at my local grocer, and I did! On sale! It’s now a fridge staple. It’s so melty and stretchy, as promised on the package. Plus, it’s soy and gluten-free, so I can enjoy it with my sister! I’ve been making quesadillas with it, and even made pizza last night. BOMB!!! Thank you Daiya, you’ve changed my life. I just need to exercise twice as much as I did before in order to keep things in balance. Look at this beautiful bag (no kitty, you can’t have any) and forgive my ever fading light as the summer goes away:
Here’s my scramble recipe. It’s simple and easy and also adaptable.

1 tbsp olive oil
1 small red onion, cut into small slices
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 16-oz package soft or medium tofu
1 c halved cherry tomatoes
1/4 c Daiya mozzarella style shreds
1 tbsp capers, drained
1 bunch fresh basil leaves, chopped if desired (but save a little sprig for garnish if you like things fancy!)

Drain the tofu package of water. Over a bowl, wrap the tofu in a clean tea towel or paper towels and squeeze the excess water out. Crumble and squeeze at the same time. Isn’t that a satisfying feeling? Empty the bowl of the tofu water, then unwrap the towel and set the tofu crumbles in it. Set the bowl aside. In a large pan, heat the oil on medium and add the onions, cook until they start to turn translucent. Add the peppers and cook for another few minutes, until they start to get a bit soft. Now toss in the tofu, tomatoes, “cheese,”  and capers; cook and stir until the “cheese” melts. It blends right in with the tofu! Lower the heat and stir in the basil- you don’t want to cook it, just wilt it. Put it on a plate alongside your beautiful potatoes, mark it with the fancy sprig of basil and enjoy! Serves 4.

from La Dolce Vegan! by Sarah Kramer

for the Dressing:
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp oil (e.g. flax, hemp, grapeseed)
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
for the Salad:
1/4 c quinoa, washed and rinsed
1 19-oz can black beans, rinsed
2 green onions, minced
1 large tomato, chopped
1 large celery stalk, chopped
1/4 small green bell pepper, chopped
1 small avocado, cubed
1/4 c cilantro, finely chopped
1/4 c frozen corn niblets

In a small pot of water, cook the quinoa accordingly. While the quinoa is cooking, in a large bowl, stir together the black beans, onions, tomatoes, celery, green peppers, avocado, and cilantro. Set aside. In a small bowl, stir together the oils, vinegar, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Set aside. Once quinoa is done, remove from heat and stir in the corn. Let sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Remove lid and let quinoa cool. Add quinoa and dressing to salad and toss together well. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Makes 2 large or 4 small servings.

I have a confession to make. This is not a new recipe. In fact, I’ve made this salad so many times that I don’t even read the recipe anymore. HOWEVER, I’ve made a spectacular modification to the salad, that I feel deserves to be shared. Mango. I’ve omitted the corn and put fresh mango in its place, and does it taste gooood. Of course, since it’s not frozen, no need to add it to the hot quinoa. Just toss it in with the rest of the salad ingredients. I love to take this salad to family dinners, since it’s soy- and gluten-free, which my sister requires.
Of course, my version of this salad never contains cilantro. Nobody seems to miss it. There’s a lot going on here, both in the texture and flavor realms. Green pepper adds a nice crunch, quinoa a little pop, and the chili powder a nice subtle zing that’s mellowed by avocado. I’ve used grapeseed oil in the past, with the corn version, and it made it just a little lighter and fruitier. For my mango substitution I used only olive oil and it was just as tasty.
Also, it’s hard to find a 19-ounce can of beans (I think it’s a Canadian thing). I usually use 2 15-ounce cans; and I double the recipe and it still seems beany enough. To be honest my salad ingredients are never measured and are way off… whole green pepper, 1/2 cup quinoa (which, by the way, cooks ever so delightfully in your rice cooker), 2 large avocados… obviously this is a flexible salad. I’m wondering what kind of variation you might try?

from How it all Vegan! by Tanya Barnard and Sarah Kramer

Flax Seed Crackers:
1/2 c flax seeds
1 1/2 c flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 tsp margarine or vegetable shortening
1 tsp dried oregano (optional), or
onion powder (optional), or
dried dill (optional)
1/2 c soy milk

Preheat oven to 325F. (I’d wait to preheat until the dough is done chilling. Unless it takes a LONG time for your oven to get warm…) In a food processor or with your hands, blend together the flax seeds, flour, baking powder, salt, margarine, and optional spices until well mixed. Place in a medium bowl and slowly add the milk. Mix and knead together until dough forms a bowl. Chill dough for 10-20 minutes.

Divide the dough into 4 equal parts. In between 2 sheets of wax paper, roll out the dough very thinly to form a rectangle. Cut into 6 squares, or use cookie cutters. Repeat with the remaining dough. Transfer the crackers onto a lightly oiled cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes, then flip them over and bake for 5 minutes more. Makes 24 crackers.

Garlic Dill Cream Cheese:
1 c soft or medium tofu
1/4 c cashew pieces
2 tsp sweetener
2-5 cloves garlic, minced (you know I went for 5!)
1-2 tbsp water (I ended up needing closer to 4, to keep my blender going)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tbsp dried dill

In a blender or food processor, blend together all the ingredients until smooth and thick. Place in sealable container. Will keep in the fridge for 4-7 days. Makes approx. 1 cup.

So, this was my first adventure in cracker baking. It was pretty fun! I doubled both recipes, because over the weekend we were expecting a few visitors, and I do like to have something to offer…. plus, I haven’t covered any savory snacks in the blog so far. I made the cream “cheese” while the crackers baked, and the entire production took about an hour. For the crackers, I didn’t add any of the flavorings, because I wanted to put jam on some of them, so they were very basic. I might sprinkle salt on top of them before putting them in the oven next time, but I am a total salt freak. I might have rolled the crackers too thick, as I’m likely to do with cookies. I used a baking mat and cling wrap for the rolling production, because I don’t have wax paper… maybe that was part of my problem? I think it worked out well anyway. These little slabs were the perfect vehicles for the cream cheese… which was SO ZIPPY due to that raw garlic! Glad I played it safe and stayed within the given range of cloves; I figured I should since it was such a wide one. The spread was quick to make, aside from having to keep adding a little water at a time to keep things blending… this stuff would be great on a sandwich, and I also used it as a topper to a scramble for our dinner last night. Super tasty! I’ll definitely be making this again, perhaps without the crackers though. They disappeared too fast.

Faux Beef recipe comes from La Dolce Vegan! by Sarah Kramer

So, there are actually three little recipes here…
One of my favorite quick and easy meals is the stir fry. So many variations, so easy. Usually I use a store-bought protein, but this time I put on my kneading gloves (or rather, took off my rings) and got to work. It was easy! And much easier on my wallet. I bought the vital wheat gluten flour in bulk, and it ended up costing maybe 20% what it would’ve cost had I purchased the prepared seitan. Plus, you get to control the flavor! Mine turned out pretty spicy. I think next time I’ll try baking the faux beef after cooking it, as it was just a tad rubbery. Also, I would make several of her other faux meat flavors at a time- she also has “turkey,” “fish,” and “chicken” to try… so if I’m standing over the stove for over an hour, at least I’m multitasking! I can’t wait to knead again!!!

Basic Instant Gluten
1/2 c instant vital wheat gluten flour
1/2 c water

In a medium bowl, stir together the wheat gluten and water until it becomes elastic. Knead for 5 minutes and set aside. Makes 2 large or 4 small servings.

Here’s what we have so far:
All cut up and ready for a broth bath (don’t let them sit up against each other for too long, or else they’ll glob back together!):

Faux Beef
2 c water
1/4 c tamari
2 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (I used extra)
1/4 tsp dried sage

In a large saucepan, bring all of the broth ingredients to a boil. Slice the gluten into steaks, chunks or strips and drop them carefully into broth. Reduce heat and cover with lid. Let simmer for 50-60 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until broth has reduced completely. Use “beef” immediately in your dish of choice or store in the refrigerator (for up to 6 days) or the freezer (for up to 6 months). For a chewier texture, once you’ve boiled the “beef,” bake it at 350 in a lightly oiled baking dish for 30 minutes. Makes 2 large or 4 small servings.

Here’s the broth bath,  30 minutes in:
I cooked this for just over an hour, and there was about 1/2 c of thick broth left. Perfect to add to my stir fry! I put it in the fridge to go into our dinner that night. Here’s what went in to the final dish. I didn’t measure the ingredients, so you should adjust to what feels and tastes right to you, especially when it comes to that sauce!

Faux Beef Broccoli Ginger Stir Fry
2 c brown rice
1 tbsp canola oil
1/3 c chopped red onion
1 large crown broccoli florets
1 recipe faux beef
1 tbsp agave syrup
3 tbsp Braggs
1 tsp chili sauce (such as Sriracha)
1 tsp powdered ginger (fresh would be even better)

Start cooking your rice. Prepare your sauce and set it aside. Heat the oil in a large wok or saucepan, and add the onions and broccoli. Once the broccoli is almost cooked to your liking (we like ours pretty green and crispy still), add the faux beef and any broth you have left over. Since it’s already cooked, you just need to warm it. Then, add the sauce and cook for a minute or so. Serve on top of your rice. Makes 2 HUGE or 4 good servings.

from La Dolce Vegan by Sarah Kramer

3/4 c sugar
3/4 c peanut butter
1/3 c nondairy milk
egg replacer equal to 2 eggs (recipe follows)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/3 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 c flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 c vegan white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. (I found it helpful to line the cookie sheet with parchment paper). In a food processor, blend the sugar, peanut butter, “milk,” egg replacer, and vanilla until smooth. In a large bowl, stir together the cocoa powder, flour, and baking soda. Add the peanut butter mixture and chocolate chips to the flour and stir together well. Drop rounded tablespoonfuls of dough onto cookie sheet, press down flat with your fingers, and repeat process until dough is gone. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Let cool before removing from cookie sheet. Makes 8-10 large sized cookies.

Flax Seed Egg Replacer

2 tbsp flax powder + 3 tbsp water = 1 egg
In a small bowl, combine ingredients and allow to sit 2-3 minutes before adding to baking.

Last time I shopped at Vegan Essentials, I bought not one, but TWO packages of vegan white chocolate chips. I’ve scoured the shelves of the baked good aisle over and over again hoping to find these little gems, one of the few things I’ve really missed since giving up animal products. They are pretty comparable in flavor to regular white chocolate chips, but the texture is just a little bit waxier, before they’re cooked. Once they’re cooked, dang. Sooooo good.
This is a recipe that I’ve been itching to make since I got this cookbook for Valentines Day three years back! Finally! I have all of the ingredients in my hot little hands! They turned out really well, I think… though I’d probably not choose to do the flax meal egg substitute for this one in the future. It was the STICKIEST DOUGH I’D EVER SEEN. And I’ve seen a lot of dough. I think next time I’d use the Ener-G Egg Replacer, which is reminiscent of egg whites- very light and fluffy. The cookies ended up really dense and chewy, with the softest part being those delicious white chips. I doubled the recipe, and brought a bunch over to my neighbors, because these were dangerous to have around, despite their sticky beginnings.

from The Garden of Vegan by Tanya Barnard and Sarah Kramer

5 large stalks asparagus, trimmed and cut into thirds
4-5 c cooked spiral pasta
2 tbsp fresh basil, minced
1 tbsp Braggs
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 c snow peas, cut into thirds
6-10 cherry tomatoes, whole or halved
3/4 c tofu mayonnaise (I used Vegennaise)

In a medium saucepan, steam the asparagus until it is slightly tender. Rinse under cold water and set aside. In a large bowl, stir together the cooked pasta, asparagus, basil, Braggs, red pepper, snow peas, cherry tomatoes, and mayonnaise and toss well. Makes 4-6 servings.

I looooooooove this series of cookbooks. I also have How it all Vegan! and La Dolce Vegan and the recipes are quite simple. They were very helpful while I was getting comfortable in the kitchen as a new vegan. They offer explanations of hidden animal ingredients, and some of the books even have fun little crafts that you can do with household items (think ReadyMade magazine). This salad was really quick and easy to make, and could be a meal in itself, especially if you added a little sauteed then cooled seitain! Yum! We took this over to my parents’ house last night, and they enjoyed it as well (even though my dad doesn’t like bell peppers or think much of basil…). This is a recipe that would do just fine if you were to choose different veggies, but I really loved the snow peas, and would never ditch those.

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