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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. 

04/14/2014

Curry Up Now in San Francisco’s Mission District hits the spot!   »

imageI love drinks in mason jars! It feels so Portland, Oregon

One of my last afternoons in San Francisco, I found myself in the Mission District’s Curry Up Now restaurant. I had been meaning to go for a while, and was in the mood for a light snack. Samosas and beer it was! 

I enjoyed my afternoon pit stop. My only regret is that I was not more hungry, because many of their menu items sounded pretty good! Curry Up has a nice beer selection, along with special vegan and gluten-free menus. The prices were fair, dare I say, even on the inexpensive side? Inexpensive for San Francisco, that is. I thought this would be a good place to grab a bite to eat and a drink with co-workers, when everyone is different levels of hungry and spend-happy! It’s also open late (midnight) on Fridays and Saturdays, which is great because I get HUNGRY when I go out. I don’t always want a burrito; I like variety! 

imageI pretended to be enthralled by the decor (which is actually quite nice) while I eavesdropped on the young, hipster girls at the table next to me discuss Taylor Swift at length. It was a little slice of heaven. 

Curry Up Now has three locations in the Bay Area, including 659 Valencia in San Francisco, 321 Hamilton Ave in Palo Alto, and 129 South B Street in San Mateo! 

04/07/2014

CLOSED: The Oh She Glows Cookbook giveaway! With a sneak peek recipe!  »

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I got to make and review The Eat Your Greens Detox soup from The Oh She Glows Cookbook, now it’s your turn! Not only that, but we are hosting a giveaway for you to own a physical copy of this gorgeous, full-color cookbook! 

Eat Your Greens Detox Soup:

1 1/2 tsp coconut oil or olive oil
1 sweet onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups sliced cremini or button mushrooms
1 cup chopped carrots
2 cups chopped broccoli florets
Fine-grain sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
11/2 to 3 tsp grated and peeled fresh ginger
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp cinnamon
5 cups vegetable broth 
2 large nori sheets, cut into 1 inch strips (optional)
2 cups torn kale leaves
Fresh lemon juice, for serving (optional)

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes, until the onion is soft and translucent.

Add the mushrooms, carrots, and broccoli and stir to combine. Season generously with salt and pepper and sauté for 5 minutes more.

Stir in the ginger, turmeric, cumin, and cinnamon and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes, until fragrant. 

Add the broth and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the vegetables are tender, 10 to 20 minutes. 

Just before serving, stir in the nori (if using) and kale and cook until wilted. Season with salt and pepper and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, if desired. 

I can’t stress enough how great this soup is if, like me, you sometimes put your body through the ringer. It’s both warming and so healthy; really great for all seasons. 

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That’s not all though! We are giving away Angela Liddon’s Oh She Glows Cookbook to one lucky Vegansaurus reader! To enter, please link to your favorite Oh She Glows blog recipe in a comment on this Vegansaurus post! It’s okay if you haven’t tried it yet, link one that looks especially scrumptious to you (I want to know what the people think is scrumptious!). Facebook comments don’t count! The winner will be picked Monday, April 14th, around 5pm Pacific. Please, only one entry per reader. 

Eat Your Greens Detox Soup reprinted with permission. Reprinted by arrangement, with AVERY, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright @ GLO BAKERY CORPORATION, 2014.

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. 

03/03/2014

I just made Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s New England Glam Chowder from the PPK, and it is PHENOM! Have you made it yet?
It’s been a pretty chilly 67 degrees in SoCal, so I needed a little something to warm up! AHAHAHAHA, just kidding, I wear tank tops everywhere, only to be met with a concerned, “Aren’t you cold?” NO WAY! I JUST MOVED HERE FROM SAN FRANCISCO! (And before that Chicago! And before that, Humboldt County! This is the eternal summer phase of my life! But yeah, actually, I could’ve used a light sweater, I just didn’t bring one, me having so many assumptions about southern California and everything.)  The truth is, I’ve been eating out with my family at a bunch of restaurants that serve clam chowder and it’s left me with a hankering for a vegan version. So thank you, Isa! This Glam Chowder, as with all of your recipes, is awesome. Plus, I’m super into it being soy and gluten-free to boot! My pal Amanda texted me awhile back, letting me know this recipe was bomb; I just want to say “Thanks, girl! You were right! Hey, can you send me some of your future-award-winning jalapeño mac’n cheese? It would be so greatly appreciated! XoXo.”

I just made Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s New England Glam Chowder from the PPK, and it is PHENOM! Have you made it yet?

It’s been a pretty chilly 67 degrees in SoCal, so I needed a little something to warm up! AHAHAHAHA, just kidding, I wear tank tops everywhere, only to be met with a concerned, “Aren’t you cold?” NO WAY! I JUST MOVED HERE FROM SAN FRANCISCO! (And before that Chicago! And before that, Humboldt County! This is the eternal summer phase of my life! But yeah, actually, I could’ve used a light sweater, I just didn’t bring one, me having so many assumptions about southern California and everything.)  
The truth is, I’ve been eating out with my family at a bunch of restaurants that serve clam chowder and it’s left me with a hankering for a vegan version. So thank you, Isa! This Glam Chowder, as with all of your recipes, is awesome. Plus, I’m super into it being soy and gluten-free to boot! My pal Amanda texted me awhile back, letting me know this recipe was bomb; I just want to say “Thanks, girl! You were right! Hey, can you send me some of your future-award-winning jalapeño mac’n cheese? It would be so greatly appreciated! XoXo.”

02/24/2014

Well, hello there Crispy Coconut Cauliflower Bites! I would very much like to enjoy you this afternoon with a delicious cocktail. Nothing wrong with celebrating happy hour in the luxury of my parent’s own home, with gluten-free, vegan and fried (or baked option) snacks! I will see you come 5pm, cauliflower bites! Thank you Fork and Beans, for this delectable-looking recipe! 

Well, hello there Crispy Coconut Cauliflower Bites! I would very much like to enjoy you this afternoon with a delicious cocktail. Nothing wrong with celebrating happy hour in the luxury of my parent’s own home, with gluten-free, vegan and fried (or baked option) snacks! I will see you come 5pm, cauliflower bites! Thank you Fork and Beans, for this delectable-looking recipe

02/19/2014

Check it out: an easy-to-follow, three ingredient recipe for coconut whipped cream, by Laura Friendly! Not only is it vegan, it’s gluten-free too! And don’t you worry about using the the rest of the can of coconut milk, that’s easy! You could make ganache, or curry, or use it for the liquid in a cake (just add water if you don’t have enough, it’s fine). While not all of Laura’s recipes available on Hello Giggles and her website are vegan, a bunch of them are, and they’re all gluten-free! Check it: TRUFFLES! You could dip the truffles in the whipped cream! Or this chocolate pie! Or make a vegan whipped cream bikini, it’s all the rage! 
Photo via laurafriendly.com

Check it out: an easy-to-follow, three ingredient recipe for coconut whipped cream, by Laura Friendly! Not only is it vegan, it’s gluten-free too! And don’t you worry about using the the rest of the can of coconut milk, that’s easy! You could make ganache, or curry, or use it for the liquid in a cake (just add water if you don’t have enough, it’s fine). While not all of Laura’s recipes available on Hello Giggles and her website are vegan, a bunch of them are, and they’re all gluten-free! Check it: TRUFFLES! You could dip the truffles in the whipped cream! Or this chocolate pie! Or make a vegan whipped cream bikini, it’s all the rage! 

Photo via laurafriendly.com

02/05/2014

New Vegan Product Alert: Beyond Meat Crumbles!!!  »

Let’s get ready to CRUMBLE!!!!!!

You know how Beyond Meat chicken-free strips make you want to joyously do the chicken dance down the aisles of Whole Foods singing their praises? Enter Beef-free Crumble, stage left. WOOOOOT! 

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Beef-Free Crumble “beefy” flavor. “Without the Bull” GET IT?!?

Bonus that they are both GLUTEN FREE and SOY FREE, thanks to the power of pea protein! 

I was lucky enough to go to the Beyond Meat headquarters for their holiday party in December, where Chef Dave Anderson, owner of the late Madeline Bistro, showcased the Beefy Crumble in a Shepherd’s pie. Holy beefless-roni, it was good! 

Don’t feel like seasoning these little love crumbles yourself, no problemo!! Beyond Meat’s got you covered for a lazy taco night with the Beef-Free Crumble “Feisty” flavor

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Beef-Free Crumble “Feisty” flavor: killing it in tacos without killing anyone.

I don’t think there are enough exclamation points to truly show how excited I feel about this. (See what I did there???)

Find out where you can buy these beef-freelicious crumbles, NOW!  (If you’re in the LA area, go to Viva la Vegan to get yours!) 

04/19/2012

How to, yo: Cashew Cream!   »

In my recipes, I use cashew cream a lot! It’s soy and gluten-free, which I think is important when cooking and eating on a vegan diet. Gluten and soy are in EVERYTHING! I need a break. Plus, some of my friends have allergies—nobody gets left out when I’m cooking.

Here is my basic cashew cream recipe. We’ll come back to this one a lot in the future, when I post my recipes for green bean casserole, vodka cream sauce, ranch dressing, and Hawaiian macaroni salad! Those are intense, but if you got the cashew cream down, you’re golden!

First of all, let’s talk about the cashews:

  1. You want to use dry, unsalted, raw cashews. I usually buy mine from Trader Joe’s, but they are available at Safeway, Whole Foods, and most health food grocers.
  2. The cashews need to be soaked! 1/3 heaping cup dry cashews, when soaked, equals 1/2 cup of soaked cashews.
  3. How you get to the ‘soaked’ part is up to you! If you have the time, or are making a raw recipe, soak them in water for at least six hours at room temperature. Any longer and you will want to refrigerate them. Make sure the water covers them, plus extra for what the cashews absorb. However, if you don’t have the time, boil them on medium heat for about 20 minutes, or until soft.
  4. Always dump the water they were soaked or boiled in and then rinse the cashews off!

Now, to make the cream!

Ingredients
1/2 cup soaked cashews
3/4 cup water

Instructions
Blend!* This will equal about 1 cup cashew cream! If you add a little salt and vanilla extract, it makes a delicious coffee creamer.

*I use a Vita-Mix, which is one of the greatest kitchen tools ever invented. Of course, a blender or food processor will work too, but you may need to strain any chunks.


Homemade BBQ seitan wings and a dollop of cashew-based ranch dressing!

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