vegansaurus!

04/17/2014

Victoria Vegan Pasta Sauces: The Vegan Alfredo-Lover’s Dream!  »

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The lovely family over at Victoria Vegan recently sent me a variety of their pasta sauces for review, and so review them I happily will!

imageThey sent me their Arugula Pesto Alfredo, Artichoke Alfredo, Vodka sauce, Roasted Bell Pepper Alfredo and Original Alfredo to try. I invited my sister over for the fun, as pasta is her favorite food. We called it our “Marinara Tasting Party”, though our party was dominated mostly by Alfredo sauces! 

imageClockwise from top left: My plate, my sister’s plate, sautéed spinach with vegan bac’un bits and my niece Audrey enjoying the Original Alfredo sauce with pasta! I made my sister and I the garlic bread and spinach (veganized), because those were staples on pasta night when we were growing up. 

I had tried the Roasted Bell Pepper sauce a little while ago, so I already knew I was a fan of this brand! It was exciting to be able to sample so many varieties, and though I really enjoyed them all, my personal favorite was the Arugula Pesto. The Artichoke Alfredo definitely came in at a close second. They were so interesting and full of flavor; I thought the creaminess of the Alfredo complimented both the Arugula Pesto and Artichoke so well! My sister’s favorite was the Vodka sauce, so I sent her home with it. (She’s always open to trying vegan food, and it feels like such a victory when we find things she likes.) Audrey just had her 18 month check-up earlier that day, in which she was given the okay to finally introduce nuts in her diet. That was a good thing because Victoria Vegan Alfredo sauces are cashew based (it’s more of a fruit, I know, but you can never be too careful with nut allergies)! The sauces are also non-GMO and gluten-free! REJOICE! Sometimes they are soy-free as well, but be sure to check the labels on that.

After my sister left, I had four open, full jars of sauce to figure out what to do with! Things got creative over here. I had some jumbo shells I was waiting to do something special with, and having the Arugula Pesto sauce was the perfect reason to finally make them! 

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I filled my shells with sautéed mushrooms, garlic, onions and kale. I also added pinches of nutritional yeast, bac’un bits and salt. I was quite pleased with the results! 

By this time I was getting tired of eating pasta, and was racking my brain for something fun to make. I thought fried mac and cheese sounded good, but not quite what I was in the mood for. So instead, inspired by this recipe, I fashioned baskets out of phyllo dough. It’s not as hard as it sounds, I swear! I made mac’n cheese with sautéed onions, mushrooms and spinach, again with a pinch of bac’un bits and nooch. I used the Orginal Alfredo for these, but any of the white sauces would be perfection! [Ed. note: DAMN GIRL GIMME THAT!] 

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Phyllo dough is not impossible or overly intimidating to work with, I swear! My mom’s secret is to keep it covered so it doesn’t dry out, but with a dry towel instead of a wet one. I greased a muffin tin, and then stuffed one folded sheet of dough into each hole. I then filled the dough with a spoonful or two of mac’n cheese, brushed the edges of the dough with olive oil and baked it at 350 until the edges were lightly browned. EASY, SEE? 

All in all, I am a big fan of Victoria Vegan Alfredo sauces! If you see the Arugula Pesto, I’m telling you, pick it up! You can’t go wrong with any of the varieties and seriously, don’t be afraid to dress them up a little when you make them! I don’t live near a Whole Foods right now, but I was daydreaming combining any of the sauces with these ravioli (I can almost taste it!). 

Read more about the Victoria Fine Foods family here! Victoria Vegan products are sold at a variety of establishments, including SproutsRainbow Grocery in San Francisco, and Vegan Essentials.

Full Disclosure: Victoria Fine Foods sent me these jars of sauces, free of charge, to review. All opinions stated above are solely my own. 

04/07/2014

Cookbook Review: Oh She Glows by Angela Liddon!   »

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Another day, another fantastic cookbook for review! Today we are featuring The Oh She Glows Cookbook, by Angela Liddon. This cookbook is based off  the popular vegan cooking blog of the same name, which you may have visited and even cooked from yourself!

First of all, this cookbook is gorgeous! There are 100 recipes featured, with each recipe given it’s own page of text and full-page, color photograph! I love this, as sometimes I find myself making recipes that aren’t turning out, and I have no idea how they’re supposed to look, which can lead to confusion and frustration in the kitchen. That’s why I love making recipes from blog posts so much! 75 of the recipes in Angela’s cookbook are new, while 25 of them are from her most popular blog posts, just updated. Her recipes are made with “real, whole-foods ingredients,” packed with vegetables and few processed foods. Each recipe is also classified regarding food sensitivities and allergies, so gluten-free, soy-free, grain-free, sugar-free and nut-free labels abound! 

Before we get to the food, I want to add that everything I made turned out as beautiful as the pictures featured*, which the author deserves credit for, for creating easy-to-follow recipes with vibrant ingredients. This is definitely a book for those looking to add some “cleaner” recipes to their repertoire! 

The first two recipes I made were the Eat Your Greens Detox Soup and Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Fingerling Potatoes and Rosemary. imageIt was a lot of green in one sitting, but my bod needed it! The soup was maybe not something I would serve guests, but make for myself when I’ve had a long weekend or late night out. It just felt good to eat it. And how can one go wrong with roasted Brussels sprouts and potatoes with fresh rosemary? The answer: you can’t! The potatoes were approved by my 18 month old niece, Audrey, which is one of the highest forms of praise in this household. She is demanding more as I type! 

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Next up I made the Marinated Italian Mushrooms because Bradleys love marinated mushrooms. I have always bought them at the store, not realizing how easy they are to make! The homemade version is delicious, and will be a staple now in my home for years to come! 

When I was flipping through Oh She Glows, deciding what to make, I came across the Perfected Chickpea Salad Sandwich, and it was a done deal. I am a huge fan of adding Vegenaise to anything and calling it a salad. Liddon’s version did not disappoint; I was blown away by how flavorful and colorful it was! Disclaimer: I did not add the pickles it called for because I do not swing that way. imageI slathered this salad on sliced sourdough bread, because any respectable sandwich comes on sourdough when you grow up in the Bay Area. 

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Last but very certainly not least, I made the Glowing Strawberry-Mango Guacamole. Talk about a sight and taste sensation! This guacamole is beautiful. There is a bit of prep involved, to chop all the fruits, but it is SO WORTH IT. One doesn’t even need chips for this, it’s great by the spoonful! 

I recommend this cookbook because it stays true to it’s word: “Vegan Recipes to Glow From the Inside Out.” The recipes I made, at least, made me feel good. They weren’t particularly tricky to make, they were just a little time consuming, as anything chock full of vegetables will be. There are so many more recipes within these pages I can’t wait to make, including her Summertime Cherry-Basil Bruschetta (Megan Rascal told me she loves bruschetta! Maybe I can finally lure her back to California for a visit by making it [Megan Rascal note: YEP SOUNDS PROBABLE BRUSCHETTA FOR LIFE]) and the Roasted Beet Salad with Hazelnuts, Thyme and Balsamic Reduction! 

Full Disclosure: I was sent this cookbook free from the publishing company for review, however, all of the opinions stated above are my own. 

*Well, my food may have turned out beautifully in real life, but I’m no food photographer! Angela Liddon not only created all of her recipes, she also shot all the food within the pages herself! 

04/04/2014

Cookbook review: Mayim’s Vegan Table!   »

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I just received Mayim Bialik’s debut vegan cookbook, Mayim’s Vegan Table, and I absolutely love it. I have had so much fun making the recipes out of this book. They are easy to follow with super accessible ingredients. I got the feeling this book is catered towards people who are new at veganism or feeding picky, young eaters, but I think anyone can enjoy it! While it can be exciting to make challenging recipes with multiple, unusual ingredients, most of the time I want to make quick meals that are big on flavor. In that respect, Mayim’s cookbook definitely delivers! Like, WHOA! 

The first recipe I made was the creamed cornbread, which is pictured above. I never would have thought of using creamed corn. It added a texture to the cornbread that was both soft and incredibly moist! This recipe did call for quite a bit of maple syrup, which I could see some people very much enjoying, but I would definitely cut down on that next time, maybe even adding some jalapeños. But don’t take that as me criticizing: I very much like having recipes in my repertoire that are delicious in their original form, but can also be easily tweaked to suit my own palate!

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The next recipe I made were the brussels sprouts chips. I meant to share these with my dad, but I ended up eating them all in one sitting. Oops! Peeling the layers of brussels sprouts is not much fun, but the result is so spectacular that I don’t mind doing it again! I hadn’t had roasted brussels sprouts chips since I last went to Social Brewery and Kitchen, so this was quite the treat.

imageMayim’s cheese sauce shows up in a few different places in her book, so I decided to give it a whirl, on it’s own. I used Daiya mozzarella, and in place of wheat flour, I substituted rice flour. I was curious if this recipe could hold up gluten-free. Good news: it does! I think many gluten-free substitutes, such as flour, breadcrumbs and pasta, can be used in the same ration without compromising the taste in her recipes. That is just another reason I am loving this book!  

imageI baked the cheese sauce atop enchiladas (my own recipe, not the ones featured in the book). I was very pleased with the consistency of this sauce freshly made as well as baked in the oven! I could see using this sauce not only on the enchiladas and mac’n cheese in the book, but also with burgers and chili cheese dogs! 

Next up, I made the soft pretzels. These were an Instagram favorite, but I have to admit, I already knew that would be the case! image
I knew I had to make the pretzels, both for myself and because if I’m going to do a review, pretzels are going to be the hit. I am super with-it, when it comes to food trends! My first thought was “Oh no, working with bread dough is so tedious.”, but I should have known better! Mayim’s recipe couldn’t have been easier or faster to make. One thing: the recipe says it makes eight, but then only has you form four pretzels. I only made four and they were huge! So next time I will make eight. I brought two over to my sister and her husband, who are both particular about food. They LOVED THESE PRETZELS, and keep demanding more! So, don’t just take it from me that they are incredible. 

imageThe very last recipe I made were the baked zucchini chips! They were fantastic and I ate them all in one sitting. Four zucchini have never disappeared so quickly! I didn’t have any vegan parmesan, and even though the recipe said that ingredient was optional, I wanted a cheesy taste. I diced up some Daiya mozzarella instead, and I thought it worked pretty well. Of course, I then had to dip them in Sriracha, because, what else? 

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So, that’s that! There are so many more recipes I can’t wait to make, including her Matzo ball soup and falafel! The cookbook contains more than 100 recipes, with appetizer, bread, sauce, breakfast, entree and dessert sections. There is also a sweet introduction, leading up to nutritional information for vegans and a few how-tos. If you are in the market for a new cookbook, I think Mayim’s Vegan Table is definitely worth checking out! 

Full Disclosure: The publishing company sent me this book free for review, however, all of the opinions stated in this post are mine. 

04/02/2014

Keepin’ It Kind’s Tofu Chèvre recipe is a vegan cheesy grand-slam!  »

imageChèvre, olive oil, balsamic reduction*, fresh chopped tomatoes and julienned basil on toasted slices of sourdough baguette. 

I am quite the vegan cheese connoisseur, and by that I mean I enjoy all of it**, especially the most expensive varieties! Right now, however, I am living in a place where the only vegan food I can trust comes from my own kitchen, fancy cheese included. There’s no Kite Hill for miles in these parts. I can’t complain too much though, as the olive oil and wine produced here are pretty fab!

Last week I wanted to treat myself, with as little work and ingredients as possible. Fortunately for me, I had bookmarked Keepin’ It Kind’s tofu chèvre, saving the recipe for a rainy day! Just kidding, I live in SoCal now, which means it was most definitely not raining the morning I made this! It was however, reigning Breaking Amish on Netfilx in my kitchen all day, that’s for sure! Man, I loved watching those four Amish and one Mennonite, making their way through the big apple. Oh, how I miss city life!

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Alright, enough TV talk (we can use Twitter for that), let’s get to the cheese. I was stoked at just how easy this recipe was to follow, and that the results following were spectacular! I did change it a little, because tahini is not something I ever have on hand, nor was I willing to buy it for a half tablespoon. I substituted a little more miso (which means I should’ve cut back on the salt) and lemon. When this baby came out of the oven it took everything I had not to just eat it by the spoonful. By the time it cooled I had only about half a log left, which I used to make the most delectable bruschetta of my life! 

imageChèvre, olive oil, balsamic reduction, avocado and julienned basil. 

I can’t recommend this recipe enough, as it’s both scrumptious and elegant! I’m making it for every party I host or attend in the future, because the world needs to know about this vegan cheese! My fave part was that not only did I make an artisanal cheese at home, it was a fraction of the cost of most vegan items on the market. I can’t wait to make this pesto and chèvre grilled cheese sammie and then this pizza! Who’s coming for dinner? I heard a rumor that Kristy Turner, of Keepin’ It Kind, may be working on a cookbook and so you better believe I’ll be ordering online from the seat I’m in right now first in line for that hard copy!

*You don’t have bother looking up a recipe for balsamic reduction, unless you like things exact. I simmered about 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar for approximately 20 minutes. It hardens as it cools, so don’t worry if it doesn’t seem syrupy enough when it’s warm. Don’t use a whole bottle of vinegar for a glaze you’ll use twice. Or do whatever you want, it’s your fridge space! 

**Never the FYH vegan cheddar though. NEVER THE CHEDDAR.

03/18/2014

Recipe: fried tempeh tacos!   »

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I love fried food! I try not to eat it very often, because it can be quite decadent and I don’t know how to stop myself, but man-oh-man it’s fun! I get jealous of my friends’ fish tacos when we go out for Mexican food. Not the fish part obviously, it’s the fact they get to eat tacos with deep-fried protein and I don’t! This always seems to happen at the joints with a less-than-par vegetarian menu, so I’m left crying over my margarita. I’m just kidding, I never cry when margaritas are involved!

I got the idea to make my own “fish” tacos after one of these debacles. You can use any protein you like, but I like the tenderness of steamed tempeh in this recipe. There’s also no “fish” taste, but please, we’re just getting too technical. They’re delicious! Now pass the margaritas! 

Ingredients:
1 8oz package of tempeh
Vegetable oil
1/4 cup cornstarch
3/4 Tbs chili powder
3/4 Tbs cumin
1/2 Tbs salt 
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup + 1 Tbs rice flour 
3/4 cup water

Chop your tempeh in to strips, widthwise. I usually get about 12 even strips. I always steam my tempeh first. It’s not a necessary step, but I like the tenderness it gives the tempeh. As that’s steaming, I toast all of my spices, from the chili powder to black pepper. I then pour them into a small mixing bowl with the corn starch. Mix the spices and the cornstarch together well! In another bowl, whisk the water and rice flour. This mixture will be watery, don’t worry about it! 

Heat up oil in a medium to large sauce pan. I usually put in enough oil to fill 1/4 of the pan. You will know your oil is hot enough to start frying when, if you splatter the tiniest bit of water in the pan, it sizzles. Once my oil is hot enough, I like to keep the heat right in between medium and medium high. Too hot and your food will burn, too low and your food will be overly greasy. 

Take your steamed tempeh strips, and one at a time, first dip them in the cornstarch and spice mixture, being sure to cover all sides. Then dip your cornstarched strip in the flour-water mixture. Quickly set your tempeh strip in your pan to start frying! Each side takes only about two minutes. The batter doesn’t necessarily brown, but it hardens up, so that helps to tell when it’s done. Put only about four strips into the pan at once because you’ll need room to flip them over. 

As the tempeh strips are done frying, take them out of the pan and set onto a plate covered with a couple paper towels to absorb the excess oil.

That’s everything! It was hard to save any tempeh strips to actually make tacos out of! I topped mine with a homemade guacamole, only to realize afterwards that I should have also picked up some cabbage at the store. Next time! The fish tacos at California Pizza Kitchen come with zesty ranch, and I think that flavor combination sounds delicious. I just so happen to have a vegan ranch recipe in my repertoire for you! 

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Sliced tempeh, about to be steamed. 

imageToasting my spices! It only takes about two minutes in a dry pan on medium heat.

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Tempeh covered in the cornstarch and spices mixture. 

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Fry tempeh, fry! 

image"Fish" sticks! 

imageMy recipe just so happens to be gluten-free, but you can easily make a gluten-full batter with 1/2 cup flour to 1/2 cup water. 

03/17/2014

Recipe: Vegan Cream Puffs featuring the Vegg Baking Mix!   »

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Hey everyone! I recently developed a vegan cream puff recipe, using The Vegg Baking Mix, and I couldn’t be more excited to share it with you! We here at Vegansaurus love The Vegg, so of course we wanted the lowdown on this new product! Rocky of Vegg sent me a sample of his new product; Since I am a vegan baker by trade, I asked him if there was anything special he’d like to see done with it. When he said “vegan cream puffs” my first thought was “OH NO, THE HARDEST THING EVER!!!” But after 17 attempts and a very full trash can, I had a success! These delectables are a little cakey, yet still airy, with a flavor that reminds me of the cream puffs from my past omni life. I was determined not to quit until I got them right. My mom and my sister, two very discerning eaters who are not always impressed by my creations or choice of restaurants, request these puffs on a regular basis! That is how I know I’ve succeeded. The pops enjoys them too, but like me, he’s a much easier-to-please and adventurous eater. 

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Alright, enough story-telling, let’s get to the recipe section of this post! One last thing before takeoff: I didn’t have the chance to experiment with anything else besides the cream puffs with The Vegg Baking Mix. If you are curious about it, here is a review by one of our fave vegan bloggers, Bianca of Cooking Crunk! I can’t wait to try that quiche. I haven’t been able to focus on anything except getting my cream puff recipe right! Did I mention I finally watched all the last episodes of Breaking Bad while doing it? That was a trip!

Recipe:

4 tsp The Vegg Baking Mix
1 cup water
1/4 tsp baking soda 

1/2 cup Organic* Earth Balance Buttery Spread
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk or water
1/4 tsp salt

1 1/4 cup flour

1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

Adjust cooking racks to the bottom half of the oven. Preheat oven to
400F. 

Blend The Vegg, tsp baking soda and 1 cup water until completely smooth. Set aside. This is the equivalent of about four large eggs. 

In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, whisk butter, sugar, soy milk and salt and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and add flour. With a wooden spoon, stir mixture until it forms one cohesive ball, which should take about 2 - 3 minutes. Turn heat off, remove dough from sauce pan and place in to a large bowl. With a hand mixer, using beater attachments, mix dough on a medium to medium high speed (always start at the lowest and work your way up) just to the point dough isn’t flying everywhere! Slowly add Vegg mixture and beat until fully incorporated. This is the kind of dough that warrants a strong gluten structure, so don’t worry about over-mixing. Turn off mixer, add vinegar, and let sit for a few seconds while it sizzles. On a low speed, mix in vinegar until incorporated. You can also use a food processor fitted with an S-blade for the mixing process, just keep in mind that the dough is sticky and therefore leads to a tedious cleanup. 
 
Line a baking tray with parchment paper, using cooking spray directly on the baking sheet to keep parchment in place. Place 12 rounded tablespoons dough on baking sheet. For uniform puffs, wet a finger and smooth the tops of the dough. Place in oven at 400F for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, lower oven temperature to 375F and bake for another 10 -15 minutes, keeping a close eye on the puffs between the 10 and 15 minute marks. The tops should be golden brown, but you want to keep the bottoms from becoming too dark. 

Let puffs cool completely and decorate!  You can poke a hole through the bottom and fill them with a pastry bag, but I prefer to cut mine in half. My
favorite way to fill them is with a coconut whip cream (if you use the Trader Joe’s canned coconut cream, refrigerated for a few hours, you don’t need to worry about discarding any liquid. Just open the can and go!) You can also use Jello Brand Instant vanilla pudding for the filling! 

Cream puff assembly is pretty straightforward: I cut the puffs in half,
scoop a dollop of whip cream on the bottom layer, place the top back on,
and generously spoon chocolate atop (see ganache recipe below)! As a final option, you can sparingly dust on powdered sugar as garnish! 

Makes about 24 puffs.

Ganache:

1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp non-dairy milk or soy creamer
1 cup vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips

I like to make a homemade double boiler for my ganache. I bring a small to medium sauce pan filled halfway up with water to a boil. I then place a metal bowl atop, lower heat to medium low, then add my chocolate chips and milk. I let the steam melt the two ingredients together, whisking
occasionally. If you do not have a metal bowl, gently warm milk in a sauce pan, being careful not to scald or boil it. Once it is heated, I remove from heat, and add my chips, gently whisking to melt down. 

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The Vegg Baking Mix is available on Vegan Cuts, The Vegg website and at Viva La Vegan in southern California. 

Full disclosure: Rocky sent me The Vegg Baking Mix free of charge to review for Vegansaurus, but I have purchased The Vegg in the past and I plan to do so in the future as well.

*If you’re concerned about palm oil in Earth Balance products and aren’t satisfied with the RSPO certification of their palm oil sources, you may prefer to use their organic Buttery Spread. All of the organic palm oil Earth Balance uses comes from Brazil, an orangutan-less country. 

01/22/2014

How-to, yo: Roast peppers!   »

It’s been awhile since I posted to my how-to series and I’m back, baby! One of the things I’ve been intimidated to do over the years is roast my peppers. Now, I know some of you are like, “I started roasting my vegetables right after I turned on an oven for the first time”, but one of things I like about this blog is that there is a little something here for everyone, from beginners to the most advanced lifestyle vegans! So let’s get this show on the road, because the Super Bowl is coming up and that means SNACKS GALORE! You can add roasted bell peppers to hummus, or even to liven up a marinara sauce. With spicy peppers, you’ve got chile rellenos or a salsa—done and done! Yeah, I totally snack like it’s Super Bowl Sunday every day of the year. 

Ingredients: 
Pepper(s) to roast 
Cooking spray or vegetable oil

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 425F*Wash and dry off whole peppers, leaving stems intact. Grease a baking dish, or cookie sheet (one preferably with edges that come up) add peppers, and lightly coat with spray or oil. Stick them in the oven, and wait for them to char! Seriously — this is the part that always makes me think I’m doing the whole roasting thing wrong because I am intentionally burning my food. And then because my fire alarm is ultra sensitive, I always need a pillow handy to wave the smoke away, so you may want to grab one as well. 

For me, the roasting process usually takes about 45 - 60 minutes. I check on my peppers a lot, and I turn the peppers in the dish (with tongs or a fork) about every 15 minutes, so that each side gets blackened. Be careful because as the peppers release water, it can spatter with the oil in the oven and onto your arm. 

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The first 15 minute turnover of my lone red bell pepper. 

Once all the sides of your pepper are nicely charred, pull your peppers out of the oven and let them cool. I like to remove them from the baking dish as soon as they come out of the oven and onto a plate, but it’s not completely necessary.

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Finished and cooling down! 

Wait for them to cool down enough to handle, remove skin and stem and seeds. Sometimes people will cover their peppers to allow them to steam, which makes the skins easier to remove. I don’t bother. My friend Andrea wears gloves when she deseeds spicy peppers—it is a great tip because if you touch your face or your eyes without scrubbing your hands down, it will be tear inducing. 

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Cooled, skinned and de-seeded. This bell pepper got minced and went into  hearts of palm crab cakes

Alright, let’s do this—I want a chile relleno casserole or enchiladas stuffed with fresh roasted jalapeños for dinner! Please, can you bring it over? THANKS! 

*I keep my oven temperature lowish for roasting because my oven gets very smokey and I feel like there is more leeway for me when it comes to the difference between gently charring my peppers and burning them to an unidentifiable crisp. You can definitely go up experiment here and go up to 450, even 475 degrees, just keep a closer eye on your peppers. There are a few different methods out there, including grilling, broiling and roasting peppers over the flame of a gas stove, but for me the baking method has proven tried and true, even if it takes a little bit longer. Plus, isn’t the broiler for storing pots and pans? I kid, I kid (nope, I’m not). 

10/15/2013

Recipe! Nelson family shrimp creole, veganized!   »

It was when I lived in Chicago about six years ago that I decided to go vegan. On that note, April is the month I consider my ‘Veganiversary” — six and a half years have gone by! (Where did it go, how has all that time passed?) Some of the hardest things about living in Chicago were missing my family in California, missing California, and missing the food I grew up on. I have since vegan-ized many of my mom and grandma’s recipes, making my lifestyle choice feel a little more familiar. Now that I’m back in the Bay Area, I get to see my clan on the regular and they have been more than helpful in pitching in on the vegan front! Butter has been replaced with Earth Balance or olive oil when cooking; plus there is always a jar of Vegenaise waiting for me in the fridge or a pint of coconut ice cream in the freezer. My favorite part of all of this is eating the food that tastes like home with the people I love most. 
One of my mom’s main go-to recipes when the family comes over is shrimp creole, which is a dish I remember her making since forever.* Luckily for me, it is easily veganized! This means I get to eat it sans shrimp with my family, instead of making a completely different dinner when we sit down to eat. But when you make it, you can add faux shrimp, chicken, beef, seitan, tofu OR SOY CURLS, OMG! 

Ingredients:

1 chopped yellow onion
8 chopped ribs of celery
2 chopped green peppers
4 minced cloves garlic
1/3 cup Earth Balance (for flavor) or enough olive oil to sauté above ingredients
1 tsp of salt (you may need to add more depending on taste)
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 Bay leaf
3 TBS flour
1 tsp sugar 
4 cans of 14.5oz diced tomatoes (try to find the ones with basil, oregano and garlic added for extra flavor!)
Up to 2 lbs protein of choice (this is completely optional, as I eat it without and it’s very tasty over rice)

Directions:

Make rice. 

Cook onions, celery, green pepper and onion, in oil or Earth Balance, until tender. Add garlic, salt, pepper, cayenne and Bay leaf. Stir in flour, sugar and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for  20 minutes. Smother over rice. 

If  you are adding protein, there is an extra step! After you cook for the first 20 minutes, add protein of choice, cover and cook on low until protein is appropriately heated, probably another 10 — 15 minutes.

Another thing I like about this recipe is that it is pretty mild, so you being the wild, creative chef you are, you can doctor it up in oh-so-many ways! Some hot sauce or cajun spice could really take this dish to the next level! Of course, I like it as is, I just gotta remember to bring home the soy shrimp next time I’m visiting my family. 

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*My sister, being a budding cook herself, recently asked where our family recipes came from. Turns out many of them are from a gas station cook book, dating back to the ‘70’s. 

05/03/2013

Vegan road trip: Phoenix! Check out Green restaurant and make your own Big Wac!   »

What’s a girl to do when a case of winter S.A.D, holiday fatigue, and the daily grind have got her down? Go to the Grand Canyon for Spring Break! Beat the blues by visiting one of the greatest natural wonders the Earth has to offer. Cautiously stand six feet away from the ledge, watch a group of men take a picture of their friend plank on the edge (thinking that surely you are going to watch a handsome Englishman plummet to his death right before your eyes, frozen in fear and experiencing vertigo just looking at him) and forget your own emotional baggage for a couple hours.

Sick of winter and worn out from the holidays, my bestie Britney and I began planning Spring Break 2013, or SXAZ, as it seemed everyone else was in Austin at the time. What was initially envisioned as a road trip from Vegas to Santa Fe quickly became reduced once travel time and expenses became a reality. Enter PHOENIX! VegNews just profiled Tempe and Phoenix vegan hotspot Green, Air BnB rentals* are plentiful, and for the four-hour drive to the Grand Canyon, Zipcars are available.

Now, if you should for any reason, find yourself in Phoenix, it is imperative that you eat at Green restaurant. Britney and I ate at Green three of the four days on that trip, we just COULD NOT get enough. By far, for both us, the most incredible item on the menu was their Big Wac, a vegan take on the (in)famous McDonald’s burger. We loved this sandwich so much, we stopped by for the third visit on our way to airport so we could eat our Big Wacs for dinner in San Francisco. Consider us obsessed.

Upon returning home, within four days I had to make my own.  So I present you with the Big JB.

image
I like my junk food with a side of sautéed kale. Or chocolate cake, whatever is available.

Ingredients
Two imitation burgers of your choice (I used Whole Foods brand)
Vegan cheese (Daiya cheddar wedge)
Romaine lettuce
Buns (whole wheat if you are healthy, white flour if you love decadence like me)
Equal parts vegan mayo and ketchup (probably about 2 tablespoons of each)
Dill pickles
2 to 3 tablespoons diced white onion

Instructions
Cook your burgers as instructed on the box. I fried mine up in vegetable oil, in a saucepan on the stove, because if I’m making glorified fast food for dinner, I’m not going the healthy route. Melt your vegan cheese atop burgers as you see fit. I like to put it on the burgers when they are almost done in the frying pan, turn off the heat, and cover the pan till the cheese melts. Smear your buns with “special sauce” (i.e. ketchup and vegan mayo), add diced onions and a couple pickles. Add your romaine lettuce as desired for nutrient value. Design burger as pictured, because you need that extra bun layer, believe me.

*We stayed in a hippie house that put Berkeley to shame. TO SHAME. No matter my minor in hippie studies from Humboldt State; I broke pretty much every rule in that house with my mere existence.

06/08/2012

Recipe! Mostly raw, totally vegan, ranch dressing!   »

When I’ve turned to vegan ranch dressings in the past, I’ve always been disappointed. So I’ve taken it upon myself to make one that reminds me of Hidden Valley. What can I say? That is what my palate wants.

Let’s do this.

Ingredients
1 1/2 cup soaked cashews
3/4 to 1 cup water
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white rice vinegar
1 tsp pepper
1/2 Tbsp. salt
1/2 tsp. agave nectar
The juice of half a lemon

Instructions
Blend all ingredients until you get the smoothest product you can! I use a Vita-Mix. I’m sure you can use a blender or food processor to pulverize these ingredients, but you may need a nut milk bag handy to strain any chunks. 

Taste. Make sure it’s a flavor profile you expect from ranch. Add more salt, pepper or vinegar to you liking. Remember, this is your base, and you are the star of this recipe.

After blending, add 1 tsp. Italian herbs and 1 tsp. dill, and mix by hand.

This is recipe that tastes best when it sits (in the fridge) for a couple hours, even better overnight. Perhaps you like your dressing a little more dill-ish? Add more! You are the chef! More salt and pepper? DO IT!

Serve and watch your party guests go crazy. I love to serve my ranch with a faux meat product (homemade seitan) because my friends are always like, “Hey, I think I could go vegan if everything tasted like this!” More potlucks, more dinner parties, because THIS IS WHAT VEGAN TASTES LIKE! 

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