Saturday, February 25, 2012

Veganizing The Plaid Cookbook, Part 2, Black Bean Soup with Sausage

This one is in the "Soups & Stews" section of the Better Homes and Garden's cookbook and it is called "Black Bean Soup with Sausage."

Hello, I love anything with beans, so I was instantly drawn to this recipe.  Also, I happen to really love the Tofurky brand sausages, and they make a perfect substitute for the Polish sausage that the original recipe calls for. 

It all turned out to be amazing.  I have definitely figured out what spices go together best to make the BEST soups and stews.  Here's what I did:

1 cup chopped onions
2 celery stalks, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 can black beans
2 cups water
1 teaspoon McKay's "Chicken" seasoning
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon black ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 1/2 Tofurky Italian Sausage, sliced

Cooked rice, optional


First cook the onions and celery in about two tablespoons of olive oil.  Add the garlic when the onions are soft and saute for another minute. 

Meanwhile, put the beans and water in a soup pot.  When the onion mixture is done, add it to the beans.  Add the "chicken" seasoning and all the spices.  Stir well.

Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes.  This is about the time it takes to make a pot of white rice.

In the last five minutes, add the sliced Tofurky.  When it is heated through, the soup is ready!  Eat as is, or add a spoonful of rice on top.  

Will's reaction:  "Mmm, mmm.  That's goooood."  With a vigorous nod of his head.  

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Roasted Veggies and Mashed Potatoes

"This is the best kind of meal!"  I exclaimed in the kitchen while my husband mashed the potatoes and stirred the veggies that were roasting in the oven.
"Why, because I'm making it?"  He replied.
Well yes that, AND it's a hearty meal of yummy veggies and potatoes, my favorites!  Those things being prepared by the Husband definitely makes it the best meal EVER!  I mean, the picture doesn't even do it justice.  The potatoes were perfect and creamy and spicy with the little bit of Gorilla Garlic and smoked paprika he used.  And the roasted vegetables?  To die for.  If you like vegetables that is, and I do.  This was all sorts of amazing veggie goodness.  He mixed a big bowl of asparagus, brussel sprouts, carrots, onions and garlic together with some olive oil drizzled over with salt and pepper.  Maybe some other spices were added; I don't know, he wouldn't tell me.  :)

We both chowed down on huge plates of everything and then the next day as soon as I got home from work I didn't even warm up the leftover veggies, I just ate them right out of the tupperware container as a snack.  Seriously, so good. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Black-eyed Peas, Mushroom and Rice-Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

I grew up watching my mom cook recipes from her battered version of the Better Homes and Garden's Cook Book.  She used this book so much that it had formed a layer of flour on it, as well as several burns from getting too close to the stove.  Several years ago, she gave me my own copy, and I am on my way to using it just as much as Mom did.  My version doesn't have any burns or layers of flour on it, but there are a few stains from drips and spills, and about a hundred post-it notes poking out of it.

I was flipping through it again for inspiration the other day and decided that my next mission is going to be to "Veganize The Plaid Cookbook."  I thought this would be simple because there are so many ways to "veganize" a dish by simply taking out the meat or dairy.  However, this technique is not really going to work for the sections entitled "Eggs & Cheese," "Fish & Shellfish,"  and simply "Meat."  So, we'll just skip those sections and try stuff from everywhere else.

Although, come to think of it, this first recipe I veganized is actually from the "meat" section.  It's called Stuffed Cabbage Rolls and the main stuffing ingredient is ground beef.  Well, that's easy to substitute!

And here's how I did it:

1 cup cooked black-eyed peas
1 cup cooked brown rice
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 oz package of baby bell mushrooms, sliced thickly
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon onion powder

2 Tablespoons olive oil 
1 cup chopped onion
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried Italian herb seasoning

8-10 medium red cabbage leaves

First, start the rice.  While that's cooking you can work on the other ingredients.

Heat the oil in a medium pan and cook the onions in the oil over medium heat.  When they start to turn soft, add the garlic and cook for one minute more.  Add the tomatoes to the onions and garlic.  Add the Italian seasoning, stir and simmer over low heat until the rest of the ingredients are ready.

In another large pan, cook the mushrooms in the olive oil until they get soft and start to exude their juices.  Add the black-eyed peas and rice and stir together with the spices.

In the meantime, boil a pot of water and dip the cabbage leaves into the water about three at a time for two minutes until they just become limp.

To make the rolls, drop a spoonful of the black-eyed pea and mushroom/rice mixture onto the middle of one of the cabbage leaves and carefully roll it like you might with a burrito.  When all the rolls are made and placed into a casserole dish, pour the tomato topping over them and if you choose, sprinkle some Daiya vegan cheese on top.

Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.

Serve immediately and enjoy!  Classic Better Homes and Gardens cooking at its best.  Delicious.

Sunday, February 19, 2012


Everyone has their version of this classic Italian soup, and here's mine.  I think the point of this soup is to just add whatever you have lying around and make sure to include white beans and pasta.  I've caught some kind of little cold, so all I was craving last night was soup.  This seemed like the perfect fix, and it was indeed delicious, satisfying and comforting. 

This is what I did:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 red onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 large tomato, pureed in a chop n prep (or similar device)
1 carrot, chopped
6 cups water
2 teaspoons No-Beef-Base
2 cups red cabbage, shredded
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon black ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 cup fresh spinach, shredded
1 can great northern beans, drained and rinsed
half package pasta (I used rice noodles)

In a deep pan, cook the onions in the olive oil for about ten minutes over medium heat.  Add the garlic in the last minute. 

Pour the tomato puree into the onions and garlic and stir well, cooking for two more minutes. 

Meanwhile, in a large pot, mix the No-Beef-Base with the water.  Add the carrots and cabbage.  Transfer the onion-tomato mixture to the large pot and bring it all to a boil.  Add the spices and lower heat to simmer.  Cook for ten minutes or as long as you want before serving.  The longer you simmer the more flavorful it becomes. 

Right before serving, add the spinach and beans.

Make the pasta separately and when you're ready to serve, put as much as you desire of it into the bowl before adding the rest of the soup. I like to keep the pasta separate so it doesn't overcook and get mushy. 

Little Shin Shin

Disclaimer:  I am aware that the food listed under the vegetable section of a Chinese restaurant menu is probably not vegetarian.  I understand that even the vegetables and bean curd might be made with oyster sauce, or fish sauce or even cooked in the same wok as the beef with broccoli. 

However, this never stops me from eating Chinese food, because it is one of my favorite foods, and when in San Francisco (or Oakland in this case) one just HAS to eat at a REAL Chinese restaurant. 

I'm sorry, but it's just one of those simple pleasures in life.  I haven't found many decent Chinese places in Southern California, so I always take advantage of my trips to the San Francisco area or the East Coast to eat some good Chinese food.

There.  That being said, here is the place Will and I found just before leaving the Bay area on Friday.  We first checked out Mountain View Cemetery and enjoyed the beautiful cherry blossoms.

We had a few hours to kill before catching our flight, so we referred to Yelp to find a good restaurant nearby.  We were craving Asian food, again.  No surprise there.  To our delight we found Little Shin Shin.

I ordered the Black Mushrooms, Snow peas & Water chestnuts (pictured above) and it was exactly what I wanted.  Those are my three most favorite ingredients thrown all together in a savory dish served over steaming white rice!  Hello, delicious!  I even made sure not to eat it all in one sitting so I could take it with me and eat the rest at the airport. 

The moral of this story is that even though the vegetable dish I ordered at Little Shin Shin might not have been vegetarian, I am going to let it slide this once and just enjoy myself and some delicious food. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Valentine's Day at To Hyang

We found out about this place on Anthony Bourdain's show "24 Hour Layover."  It's Korean food, so of course we had to try it out!  It just so happened that I have a work trip in the Bay Area this week, so it worked out perfectly to spend the night in San Francisco on Valentines Day and eat at To Hyang.

They had several veggie-lover options on the menu so I happily ordered the Japchae with veggies, and the Vegetable Soondubu for us to share, and how bout we just not mention the meaty thing that Will ordered. 

Everything was wonderful and authentic.  It was a very lovely Valentine's Day dinner in San Francisco!

Japchae with veggies    
Loads of Korean Food!  Yum!

Dinner at Grandma's House

Dad was in town, so we all got together at Grandma's house for dinner last weekend.  Grandma was proud to serve us a totally vegan, gluten-free dinner, and it was delicious!  Thank you Grandma!  We all went back for seconds, everything was so good!  Here it is, but you'll have to write to grandma for the recipes :)

Grandma's Dinner Menu:
Vegan, gluten-free nut patties
Succotash with edamame
Mashed potatoes and (vegan, gluten-free) gravy
Cabbage, Ramen noodle salad

Goji Kitchen in Santa Rosa

I first went to Goji while I was in Santa Rosa for a work trip back in September.  (Read about it here.)  This is amazing Asian-Fusion cuisine that specializes in local and organic food.  I love it because there are a ton of vegan options and it has a really nice, friendly atmosphere. 

Last time I ordered the vegan pho, which I was really tempted to get again because I love pho; but, alas, I decided to try something different.  I was not disappointed. 

Claypot Tofu with Fresh Shitake Mushrooms in Basil and Garlic Sauce
This clay pot was jam packed with all sorts of veggie goodness!  The tofu was perfect, the spiciness was perfect, the loads of fresh-roasted garlic cloves were perfect.  It was perfect.

I also ordered the vegan fresh spring rolls but they are not pictured because I was too busy stuffing my face with their deliciousness. 

If you are ever in Santa Rosa California, you must eat at this place. 

Garlic, Chick-pea and Spinach Soup

This is a delicious, hearty soup for a chilly winter evening.  And yes, even though it's 85 degrees during the day, it still gets quite chilly at night here.  I was attracted to this recipe because it said it as a garlic soup and I love anything that has garlic in the title.  It's adapted from the Vegetarian cookbook by Linda Fraser.

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 cups vegan "chicken" broth
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 large potato, peeled and chopped
1 can chick-peas, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon cornmeal
1 tablespoon Tofutti cream cheese
1 tablespoon Tofutti sour cream
2 tablespoons tahini
2 cups fresh spinach, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large soup pot and saute the onions and garlic until softened.

Stir in the cumin and coriander.

Pour in the two different broths and add the chopped potatoes.  Bring to a boil and then simmer on low heat for 10 minutes.  Add the chick-peas and simmer for another 5 minutes or until the potatoes and chick-peas are tender.

Whisk together the Tofutti cream cheese and sour cream and tahini.  Stir the mixture into the soup and bring the boil.  Add the spinach, lower heat and simmer for about 2 minutes or until ready to eat!

Season with salt and pepper if needed and enjoy!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Amazing Vegan Ranch Dressing

It's a stock photo, but this is what mine looked like.  See salad below.

 I was inspired to find a way to veganize ranch dressing for the super bowl party with my vegan buffalo chicken wings.  I made this and it was amazing, and then I forgot it when we left for Lisa and Brent's house.  Alas, we didn't have it for the celery sticks and buffalo wings at the super bowl party, but Will and I used it for salads the rest of the week!  This stuff is seriously so good, I was practically eating it with a spoon.

Here's what I did:

3/4 cup Vegenaise
2 tablespoons rice milk
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried dill
2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Blend everything together and promptly dip your carrots and celery into it!  Warning:  it's a little runny, so I added soft tofu until it thickened up a bit. 

Here's a picture of a salad with my amazing vegan ranch dressing:

French Onion Soup

I love, love, love soup.  I would eat soup every day if there only weren't hundreds of other foods I want to keep trying.  The other night I referred to a cookbook I've had for years and years, but have never actually ever cooked anything from it.  It was one of those bargain books at Barnes and Noble, and I think I bought it when I lived in Utah -- NINE years ago.  It's about time I checked it out.

One of the first recipes I turned to in this book was the Classic French Onion Soup.  I used to love French Onion Soup, but at restaurants it's most likely always going to be made with chicken or beef broth.  This recipe actually called for vegetable broth, but I went one step further and found a vegan beef broth instead!  YUM! 

I also added three garlic cloves to give it a little extra kick.  Here is the official recipe, adapted from the Vegetarian Cookbook by Linda Fraser.

3 large onions (I used one white, one yellow, and one red)
2 tablespoons safflower oil
2 tablespoons Earth Balance vegan butter spread
3 3/4 cups No Beef Base (see above)
Salt and pepper to taste
French bread

Slice the onions into small slices and chunks.

Heat the oil and buttery spread in a deep saucepan.

Saute the onions on high heat for a few minutes, stirring constantly

Reduce the heat and cook the onions for 45 minutes.  Stir occasionally at first, but as they begin to soften and turn darker, stir more often.  They should be a dark golden color when they're ready to add to the soup. 

Meanwhile, in a large soup pot, prepare the No Beef Base and water. 

When the onions are ready, add them to the "beef' broth and add a little salt and pepper.  Simmer for around thirty minutes. 

Toast or grill the French bread and eat with the soup when ready!

This soup is so good you'll never be able to eat the stuff at restaurants again.  Will and I polished off the entire pot and licked the bowls clean.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Super bowl Sunday

I know this is a little late, but it was a busy week!  You know, I watched a lot of movies and stuff...  No, but seriously it was a super exhausting week and all I really felt like doing when I got home was watch movies.  Therefore -- not much writing. 

Anyway, this is what I made (or prepared from a package) for the Super bowl party we went to last Sunday:

Spinach/artichoke dip

 (See recipe below)

(Gardein) Buffalo chicken wings and (Gardein) Chipotle lime crispy chicken tenders
(When one meat-eating boy came back from a snack run to the kitchen he proclaimed, "Who's been holding out on that fake meat stuff?!   It's really good!"  Thankyouverymuch.)

 Israeli Cous Cous Salad

And Lisa provided this super yummy vegan dip from Whole Foods!   

Michele's Vegan Super Bowl Spinach-Artichoke Dip
This is what I did, but these kind of things are all about throwing stuff together and making it "to taste."

10 baby artichokes, steamed, peeled, hearts extracted chopped into small pieces
1 bag fresh spinach, chopped and steamed
1/2 cup Tofutti Sour Cream
1/2 cup Tofutti Cream Cheese
1 tablespoon Vegenaise
1/2 teaspoon nutritional yeast flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
Daiya cheese shreds to sprinkle on top (optional)

Mix everything together well, except the Daiya cheese.  Put the dip into an oven-safe dish, sprinkle the cheese on top and bake in oven for about 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees.

Serve with French bread or chips!  Delicious!  The guys were too busy eating their real chicken wings (puh-lease) to thoroughly enjoy the amazingness of this vegan dip, but I'm sure deep down inside they loved it.  As for the us girls, well, the more for us! 

It was a good meal and a good game. 

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Creamy Polenta and Mushroom Ragout

The other day a friend called for ideas on making a veggie meal for a guest who was vegan.  After I told her about an easy dinner to make which includes polenta and roasted vegetables, I realized that it sounded really good and I was craving this favorite meal again!

You can't actually see the polenta in this picture, but what I ended up making was creamy polenta with a mushroom ragout and roasted brussel sprouts and onions.

It was delicious!  Here's what I did.

(Recipe adapted from

For the polenta:

  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Boil the water first.  When it is boiling, whisk in the cornmeal and turn heat to low.  Add salt and pepper, stir to mix well, and cover with a lid for 6-8 minutes.  Remove from heat.

For the mushroom ragout:
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon safflower oil
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 2 cups mushrooms, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 roma tomatoes, halved, seeded, and chopped (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 1 cup canned corn
  • 1/2 cup vegan chicken broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
Heat the oil and butter in a large pan.  Add the onions and saute for about 5 minutes.  Add the mushrooms and cook until they start to exude their juices and become soft.  Finally, add the rest of the ingredients, except for the chives, and cook on medium heat for ten minutes.  If the mixture is too watery, boil until most of the liquid is reduced. 

To serve, heap a generous serving of the polenta on your plate, cover it with the ragout and add the roasted veggies (in this case it was brussel sprouts) on the side.  Sprinkle the chives over everything.  

Sit back and enjoy!