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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Holiday Temptations

Hey Babes,

The time thingy on my blog is off, I am actually posting this around 2:30 in the morning.  I got to be the date of one of my gorgeous lady friends for her work Christmas party tonight and as I was leaving, five people walked in with TOWERING boxes of PIZZAAAA!!!!!  The smell alone was nearly enough to send me into a state of nirvana.  I thought about searching for a piece of vegetarian pizza but knew I would regret it later so I am currently curbing my hunger with avocado smushed on toast.  Which is delish and quite satisfying too! 

At this time of year, the cravings don't end with pizza.  Eggnog (love it or hate it) is one of my fave holiday treats!  But alas, the egg and cream and sugar content is enough to make any vegan shed a little tear.  My family Christmas morning breakfast tradition is Eggs Benedict which is poached eggs drowning in a sauce made from butter and egg yolks - to die for!  And let's not forget all the amazing shortbread cookies, nanaimo bars, cakes, pies and desserts that are sometimes too tempting to resist!

WHAT I AM GETTING AT IS:  It can be really hard to resist non-vegan temptation around the holidays BUT YOU DON'T HAVE TO MISS OUT ON ANY OF THE DELICIOUSNESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!  There are recipes alllllll over the place for vegan versions of your favorite treats!  For example, I plan on making Roasted Tomato-Asparagus Benedict with Vegan Hollandaise Sauce for breakfast on Christmas morning!  Not missing out on the yumminess, but also staying true to my compassionate lifestyle choices.

EVEN MORE IMPORTANTLY:  If you do decide to go for it and eat that yummy non-vegan treat, DO NOT BEAT YOURSELF UP OVER IT!  I should confess that I am a serious dairy foods lover and letting go of it was sooooo hard.  Every now and then I absolutely indulge in dairy foods.  Especially CHEESE!  And at first I used to feel really guilty, like I was going to get in trouble with the vegan police.  But I realized that it's useless to feel guilty about it.  All the goodness (to the planet, to your body, to animals and to humanity) of a day-to-day vegan lifestyle cannot be undone by a piece of pizza.  Feel grounded in what made you make the choice to go vegan in the first place and know that you can't be perfect all the time.

And just keep truckin' on.


Friday, December 3, 2010

Veggie Wonton Dumplings

Guten morgen mein schatz,

As you may already be aware, I have a dumpling obsession.  I rambled on about it for a while in my gnocchi post so i'll spare you this time (besides, who doesn't like dumplings?) and just cut to the chase.  If you have never worked with wonton wrappers before, do not be intimidated.  Dumpling makery can be a very zen experience as it is assembly that takes most of the work.  It's important not to overfill your dumplings otherwise they will be a pain in the butt to seal and may explode during cooking.  I used an assortment of veggies that I just happened to have but I really encourage you to use whatever veggies you like!  Onions, carrots, cabbage of all kinds, mushrooms, spinach, scallions, broccoli, leeks, water chestnuts, celery, daikon, cauliflower. . . go nuts!  It's a great recipe for using up veggies that are looking a little haggard...
Oooooh another thing: I fried these but they would be AWESOME steamed (and nicer to your inner thighs)!

 Veggie Wonton Dumplings
1 package wonton wrappers (check the ingredients, lots contain eggs)
1 carrot, finely diced
1 large onion, diced
1 cup chopped cabbage
1 cup broccoli, chopped into very small florets
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup shoyu mixed with 2 tbsp water
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
sunflower oil for frying

In a large saucepan, heat a tsp of oil over medium heat.  Saute the onion, carrot, cabbage, broccoli and garlic until quite tender.  Remove from the heat.  Add the sesame seeds, cilantro, ginger and shoyu-water mix.  Using a food processor or immersion blender (hand blender), blend the veggie mix until it is well combined but a few little veggie chunks remain.  Season with S&P.

Time to fill some wonton wrappers:  Have a little bowl of water standing by and a cookie sheet dusted lightly with flour.  Hold the wonton wrapper in the palm of your hand.  Place 1 - 2 tsp of filling in the centre of the wrapper.  Using your finger, moisten all around the edges of the wrapper with the water you have standing by.  Now you can either fold the wonton over into a triangle shape, pinching the ends well or pressing them with a fork to seal OR you can bring all the sides together into a little pouch shape (like I have done in the picture) and pinch WELL to seal.  Continue this process until you have used up all your filling. 

You can freeze your wontons on the floured cookie sheet and steam them right from frozen!

Otherwise, steam these babies right away (they make greeeat party food for veg heads and omnivores alike) or you can pan fry them in sunflower oil on medium heat until golden brown.  Serve these puppies with your fave dipping sauce (sweet&sour?  plum?  soy sauce?  hoisin?  ketchup?)

Stay warrrrrm,


We Got Vegan Cannelloni, Baby!

Ciao Bellas,

I had been dying for a comforting, rich, baked pasta dish and after my tenth failed vegan mac-and-cheese attempt (I just can't seem to find a good one), I nearly gave up.  Until I remembered one of my favorite pasta dishes: cannelloni!  I rushed to the grocery store and back and in no time at all whipped up a DEEEELISH and SUPER EASY recipe!
It uses tofu 'ricotta' but don't be frightened, it tastes just like the real thing.  If you use jarred or tinned tomato sauce you will save a ton of time, just make sure you check the ingredients to make sure they're vegan.  You can definitely use regular cannelloni noodles, I was just feeling very lazy at the time and couldn't be bothered to pre-cook anything.

Cannelloni with Spinach and 'Ricotta'
1 box oven-ready cannelloni noodles
1 jar tomato sauce
3/4 cup water
1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
6 garlic cloved, chopped
1 package of extra firm tofu
1/4 cup chopped basil or 2 tsp dried
pinch fresh ground nutmeg
juice of 1/2 lemon

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.  Mix the water and sauce together and spread 1/2 cup of it on the bottom of a 9"x9" casserole dish.
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan on meadium heat.  Sautee the onion and garlic until tender and translucent.  Add the spinach and cook until warmed through.  Crumble the tofu into the spinach mixture and add the basil, nutmeg and lemon.  Season with S&P.  Put the mixture into a blender and pulse until the mixture looks even but is not a totally green puree.  Or you can use an immersion blender.
Fill each cannelloni noodle with the spinach ricotta mixture until it is at capacity.  Place the filled noodles in even rows in the casserole dish.  Cover with the remaining sauce and any extra filling. 
Bake for 25 min and broil the top until it's bubbly.  Let it sit for a few minutes before serving, it's hot!

Enjoy ;)


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Vegan Tapas Party!!!

Hello Lovelies,

I made a Spanish themed dinner for a special friend this weekend.  For the main course I made a paella recipe that I found online by vegan chef Tal Ronnen.  It turned out alright, although I would reduce the amount of water/stock added from four cups to three, otherwise it will be less like paella and more like risotto.  The toppings were really yummy: seitan 'chorizo' (homemade!), wine braised artichoke hearts and nori-dusted oyster mushrooms that taste a lot like seafood!  Here's the paella recipe if ya wanna give it a try!

Before I served the paella I made a few Spanish tapas:  Garlic-Stuffed Olives with Lemon and Basil, Spanish Spiced Almonds and Pan con Tomate. 

Garlic-Stuffed Olives Marinated in Lemon and Basil
Head to the bulk olives at your friendly neighborhood grocery store and get a bunch of jumbo green olives stuffed with garlic cloves.  Take them home and marinate them for at least an hour in the juice and zest of one lemon, 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil and 1 tbsp olive oil.

Spanish Spiced Almonds
Toast one cup of almonds in a pan (carefully!).  Once toasted sprinkle them with 1 tsp smoked paprika, lots of fresh ground pepper and a sprinkle of salt.  Turn off the element and add 1 tbsp of sugar stirring the almonds quickly to coat them in the sugar and spices.  The sugar should melt into a candy-like coating.  Let the almonds cool on a greased plate of cookie sheet before serving.

Pan con Tomate
This is just a fancy way of saying Tomato Toast, people.  Toast some rustic bread slices under the broiler then rub each slice with a garlic clove that has been cut in half.  Smush a ripe tomato chunk on each slice.  Drizzle with good olive oil and sprinkle with S&P.  Best when you use TOP NOTCH tomatoes!

Other ideas for vegan tapas:
Banderillas: pickled veg tidbits on skewers
Vegan 'chorizo' and apples braised in wine
Patatas Bravas: fried potato chunks with 'bravas sauce' (a spicy tomato sauce) or vegan aioli
Empinadas: little turnovers filled with spicy vegan 'beef' or veg
Bean Croquettes with Romesco Sauce
Mushrooms sauteed with sherry
LOTS of Spanish vino :)

Tapas make for a really easy cocktail party since most of the dishes require assembly rather than a lot of cooking.  They would definitely add sassy Spanish flare to any holiday party you might be throwing in the next month ;)


Thursday, November 25, 2010

My Toaster Is Probably Better Than Your Toaster

Hey Gorgeous Ones,

I really, really, really love toast.  It's good any time of the day with just about anything on it.  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, even dessert toast!  Not to be a snot, but my toaster really is awesome.  I bought it right before I moved to Toronto and when I moved back to 'Peg City, it came right back with me.  I couldn't bear to leave it behind!  My Cinderella toaster not only bears the image of one of my fave Disney princesses, but it toasts a glass slipper onto your toast!  BUT WAIT THERE'S MORE: When the toast pops, it plays "The Waltz of the Flowers" from The Nutcracker.  I'll tell ya, nothing perks me up like Tchaikovsky first thing in the A.M. 

One of my ABSOLUTE FAVE toast toppings is diced tomatoes drizzled with olive oil and just a sprinkle of S&P.  Maybe some fresh basil if ya have.  I call it: Tomato Toast.  It's famous 'round these parts.

Another one to try if you are sick of PB&J is toast spread with Earth Balance butter, topped with spaghetti squash, white beans and basil.  It's a perfect meal on the go!

That's it.  That's all I'm posting today as far as recipes go.  I just wanted to brag about my toaster and spread some toasty lovin' to you all on this chilly November eve.

Juuuuuuust sayin...

Toasty hugs and kisses,

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Quest for the Perfect Spicy Peanut Noodle Soup Part I

Hey hey HEY!

There is a Chinese restaurant here in my Osborne Village 'hood called the Spicy Noodle House.  My sister 'Boomer', who refers to the owners of the resto as Mr. and Mrs. Noodle, brings home a brown paper bag from said noodle house once every week or so that contains a huge vat of the most incredible spicy peanut noodle soup.  The Boom custom orders it by asking for the vegetable tofu noodle soup with the spicy peanut soup base.  I don't know if it's even vegan, but I DO know that it's incredibly good and I have been obsessed with perfecting the recipe at home.  This is the recipe I have come up with and it's delish!  It's great for utilizing pantry staples (peanut butter, udon noodles, chili flakes, veggie stock) and veggies you are likely to have around (carrots, onions, and whatever other veg you might throw into a stir fry).  Besides, there's nothin' like a little spice to keep ya warm on a chilly November day ;)

KITCHEN TIP ALERT!:  There is nothing like fresh ginger.  Save the ground stuff for baking and spice rubs.  Store fresh ginger root in your freezer.  It keeps for a looooooong time and it's super easy to grate when it's frozen!  Just peel it, put it into a little freezer bag and use it as you need it.  I also like to freeze slices of peeled ginger to make ginger tea (fresh ginger slices steeped in boiling water with honey) for any time I feel under the weather (great for tummy troubles, coughs, colds and flu!) 

Spicy Peanut Noodle Soup
1 tbsp grapeseed oil
1 tsp sesame oil
1 large onion, diced
8 cloves garlic, sliced
3 tbsp fresh grated ginger
2 tsp chili flakes (or more if ya need it HOTTA)
2 carrots, cut in half lengthwise then sliced into half-moon shapes
2 cups sliced mushrooms, a mix of crimini and shitake
2 cups chopped bok choy or other Asian cabbage
8 cups veg stock or water
6 tbsp tamari soy sauce
1 cup natural peanut butter (I like chunky!)
2 pkgs udon noodles
1 pkg medium tofu, cubed
1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained and rinsed

In your favorite soup pot (every soup lover has one), heat the oils on medium heat.  Saute the onion, garlic, ginger, chili flakes and carrot until tender.  Add the mushrooms and bok choy and saute just until soft.  Add the stock or water and tamari.  Bring the soup to a boil and then drop the heat to a simmer.

Stir in the peanut butter until totally blended into the broth and then add the udon noodles, tofu and water chestnuts.  Simmer the soup for fifteen - twenty minutes and season with S&P.  All you crazy spice freaks can add some sriracha hawt sauce right about now. 

The quest for the perfect replica continues...

Spicy Kisses,

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Veggie Burger Mania!!!!

Hey Baaaaaaaaaabes,

I have two delish and super easy veggie burger recipes for you!  I love to make large batches of burgers and freeze them.  I have been eating on the cheap lately: dinner comes straight out of the pantry.  Foods like beans, rice, quinoa, lentils, pasta, cous cous, canned San Marzano tomatoes, udon noodles, and a whack load of spices make for a huge variety of healthy and inexpernsive eats.  Recipes to come... 
My siblings and their significant others and I had another dinner party on Sunday, this time Italian themed.  I brought Spaghetti Aglio Olio which is basically spaghetti with olive oil, garlic, chili flakes and fresh Italian parseley.  Easy, easy, easy and so yummy!  I love hearing your feedback on recipes that I have posted so please don't be shy and let me know how yours turn out!!!

Basic Veggie Burgers
2 cups beans (I used adzuki for this batch but you can use your fave!)
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1/2 tsp thyme (or any spices you like! If you use black beans try cilantro, if you use white beans use basil!)
2 tsp smoked paprika (again, have fun with the seasoning, maybe chili powder or curry!)
2 tbsp shoyu

In a large bowl, mash the beans until mostly smooth with a few chunks.  Add the rice.  In a skillet, heat the oil and saute the onions and garlic until very tender.  Add them to the rice and beans along with the spices and shoyu.  Mix well until the mixture is well combined.  Season with S&P. 

I find that it's easier to form patties when the burger mix is chilled.  Set the bowl in the fridge for 30 min to an hour and then form the mix into patties.  At this point you can wrap them in parchment paper and cling wrap and freeze them in freezer bags OR oil up that skillet and fry 'em til the burgers are golden on both sides!  If you freeze them allow them to defrost for a couple hours.  I have also has success baking the burgers in the oven with a little olive oil drizzled over them.

Tofurkey Burgers
1 block of firm tofu
1/3 cup fine breadcrumbs plus extra for breading
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 tsp smoked paprika
fresh ground black pepper
2-3 tbsp shoyu

Mash the tofu with your hands or a fork.  Stir in all the other ingredients until well combined.  Form the mixture into patties (they can be a bit finicky so be patient!) and coat with remaining breadcrumbs.  Freeze in the same manner as the basic veggie burgers and cook in the same manner as well!  Easy easy EASY!!!

Happy Trails,

Friday, November 5, 2010

Vegan Restaurants and Catering in Winnipeg!

Happy Friday!

Many of you have been asking me where to buy seitan which makes me sooooo happy because that means you are intrigued by my seitan obsession rather than disturbed by it!!  But alas, I have NO idea where to buy it in Winnipeg.  On the plus side: it is so easy to make from scratch!  And you can find all of the ingredients at your friendly neighborhood Bulk Barn (including gluten flour)!  I use this recipe for homemade seitan .  I modify it slightly by replacing the ground ginger with smoked paprika (Bulk Barn) and add 1/4 cup nutritional yeast (you can get it at Bulk Barn in the bulk spices.  I have also seen it at Superstore in the health food aisle and Organza Market in the refridgerated section).  Do not be afraid of nutritional yeast!  It has delicious flavour and is an excellent source of B12 vitamins and protein! 

I thought that since it is the weekend that I would post a list of some of my favorite vegan and vegan friendly restaurants!  I would love to hear some of your favorites too!

Boon Burger - Obviously one of my faves, I yammer on about it enough!  Burgers, poutine, soups and salads all SUPER YUMMY!!!

Falafel Place - HUGE vegan and vegetarian menu, think diner meets mouth-watering Middle Eastern cuisine!  I always get 2 dozen falafel balls and a side order of tahini sauce and STUFF MY FACE!

Burrito del Rio - the grande vegetarian burrito is the size of a small infant and packed with fresh ingredients and loads of flavour!

Fresh Cafe - One of my all-time fave's, best vegan brunch EVER!  And the fresh juices have saved me on more than one morning-after-a-bender

Calm Unity Cafe - Located in the Moksha Yoga studio it is perfectly virtuous food after a cleansing hot yoga session!

Delicious Vegetarian Restaurant - It TRUELY lives up to it's name!  You absolutely MUST try the deep fried mushrooms with spicy salt (omgomgomgomgomg!!!)!

Not exactly a restaurant, but Nofu Plant Based Catering is Winnipeg's premiere exclusively vegan catering co.!  They cater everything from office luncheons to weddings to cocktail parties to baby showers - you name it!  I can't tell you how many weddings I've been to where the vegan option is either a slab of tofu or pasta with veggies - boring!! Check Nofu out! 

It's a lot easier to eat vegan in restaurants than many people think.  At Pizzeria Gusto the 'drunken mushroom' pizza (I think it's called the 'Sophia') without the cheese is UNREAL!  At most sushi places there are tons of veggie rolls along with vegetable tempura and edamame!  If you are more in the mood for a couple little tapas to accompany a bottle of Spanish vino (although one bottle is rarely enough) then you have to visit Segovia and try the Pan Con Tomate and Olives with Orange and Thyme mmmm...

Happy Noshing this weekend!


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I Sold My Soul to Seitan

Hey Baybeeees,

Okay okay OKAY!  It appears that I am a little bit obsessed with posting seitan recipes so after this one, I'll try to vary it up!  This is a 'steakhouse' inspired dish that would be perfect date night food (the recipe serves two). 

Sunflower-Crusted Seitan with Mushroom-Garlic Smashed Potatoes
-2 seitan cutlets sliced in half crosswise
-1/4 cup red wine vinegar
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1/4 cup shoyu
-2 tbsp fresh chopped herbs of your choice
-1/2 cup water
-1/3 cup flour
-1/3 - 1/2 cup ground sunflower seeds
-2 tbsp olive oil
-4 - 5 medium sized Yukon Gold taters, washed and cubed
-3 cloves garlic, chopped
-1 cup chopped mushrooms
-2 tbsp vegan butter

Whisk together the red wine vinegar, shoyu, minced garlic, herbs and water.  Season with S&P and marinate the seitan 'filets' in the mixture for at least and hour.  Remove the 'filets' from the marinade and dredge them in flour.  Then dip them in the marinade again and coat them in the ground seeds, pressing them on so they stick well!  Heat the oil in a skillet and saute the seitan filets until golden on both sides. 

To make a 'jus':  pour the leftover marinade into the hot skillet and reduce until slightly thickened and season with S&P.

Meanwhile, boil the potatoes until tender.  Drain them and mash them with a potato masher or whip them up with an immersion blender.  In a skillet, saute the mushrooms and garlic and then add to the taters along with the vegan butta.  Season with S&P, of course!

I served this up with some roasted baby carrots from (you guessed it) my Mama's garden!


Monday, November 1, 2010

Sesame-Crusted Seitan with Red Wine-Soy Braised Vegetables and Crispy Udon Noodle Cakes

Hello Darlings,

Sorry I haven't posted in a while!  I hope that the recipe I am posting today makes it worth the wait.  I had two lovely girlfriends over for dinner last week and dreamt up this dish.  I had all the ingredients for stir fry but I find that stir fry can be so booooorrrrring!!!  So this is stir fry my way.  No more saucey piles of whatever you have in the fridge atop rice, people! 

Sesame-Crusted Seitan with Red Wine-Soy Braised Vegetables and Crispy Udon Noodle Cakes
serves 4
sesame seitan:
-3 seitan cutlets (about 1 1/2 lbs)
-1 clove garlic, minced
-2 tsp fresh grated ginger
-4 tbsp sweet chili sauce
-4 tbsp shoyu
-1/3 cup water
-sriracha hot sauce (to your liking)
-pinch S and lots of fresh ground P
-1/3 cup whole wheat flour
-2 tbsp sesame seeds
braised veg:
-4 to 6 cups of your favorite chopped veg (I used purple cabbage, onion, garlic, mushrooms, bell peppers and cucumbers)
-1/3 cup red wine
-2 tbsp shoyu
-fresh ground P
udon noodle cakes:
-2 packages of udon noodles

SEITAN: Whisk together the garlic, ginger, chili sauce, shoyu, water, hot sauce and S&P.  Cut the seitan into bite sized chunks and marinate in the sauce for at least an hour.  Toss together the flour and sesame seeds and add the drained seitan (reserve the marinade).  Add a tablespoon of the marinade to the flour/sesame/seitan mixture and ensure that each little seitan chunk is well coated with flour/sesame seeds.  Heat a few tbsp of oil in a skillet over medium heat and fry the seitan until golden on all sides.

VEG:  Heat a few tsp of veg oil in a skillet and saute veg until tender crisp.  Add wine and shoyu and cook until absorbed.  Season with pepper!

NOODLE CAKES: Carefully remove the noodles from the package and slice them in half into triangles.  Heat 3 tbsp veg oil in a pan and saute until golden on each side.  You can keep them warm in an oven set to low heat.

TO ASSEMBLE:  Place a noodle cake on each plate and top with the braised veg followed by the seitan.  Pour the reserved marinade into a hot skillet and reduce by half.  You can add a splash of red wine too!  Pour the sauce over the seitan and serve with some steamed baby bok choy!

Until next time,

Sunday, October 17, 2010

"Chicky Fingers" and Fries

Hello gorgeous ones,

I have been busy busy busy since Thanksgiving (the home made tofurkey was a HIT as well as the pumpkin pie, I'll post recipes soon!) and haven't been making anything worth blogging about (lots of toast!).  Today, I made a big batch of seitan and was immediately inspired to create a vegan version of my favorite meal when I was little.  Chicken fingers and fries are on just about every family restaurant menu and kids go CRAYZAY for them.  Sadly, they are often full of fillers and all kinds of crap (and chicken of course which is a definite NO for all you vegetarians out there) so they aren't always the healthiest choice.  It should be said that I have a reputation for making the BEST oven baked french fries.  It has taken me years to perfect the combination of oven temp, seasoning, potato variety and timing and I am ready to pass on the recipe to YOU!

There's only a few hours left before Sunday Night Football starts, so get your butt into the kitchen and whip up this classic diner staple - perfect for game night fare!

"Chicky Fingers" and Fries
2 seitan cutlets, sliced into 'fingers'
2 tbsp djon mustard
1 tbsp shoyu
1/4 - 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
3 tbsp canola oil

2 russet potatoes, scrubbed, sliced into fry shapes
2 tbsp canola oil

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Toss the fries in the canola oil and arrange them on a large baking sheet in an even layer (this is crucial for even browning, you may have to use more than one sheet).  Bake in the oven for about 20 min, then flip and bake for another ten.  Season with S&P as soon as you take 'em out of the oven.

Meanwhile...mix the shoyu and mustard together in a bowl.  Toss with the seitan fingers to coat them well and then dredge with flour.  Make sure each finger is well coated!  Heat the oil in a skillet oven med high-ish heat and saute the fingers until golden on all sides.  

Serve with lots o' ketchup and you fave dipping sauce!


Thursday, October 7, 2010

French Lentil Pate

Hello, Dollies. 

It's so nice to have you back where you belong. 

Last night I made a big pot of Cauliflower Bisque with Buttered Bread Crumbs from Alicia Silverstone's (yes, as in 'Cher' from Clueless) blog The Kind Life.  It was mighty delish and her blog is definitely worth a visit.  If you dig her blog, pick up a copy of her book The Kind Diet.  Great for non-vegan's who are curious about goin' veggie, vegan's and also crazy health nuts (reffered to in the book as Superhero's).  

As part of my continued effort to consume more protein, I made a very chic French Lentil Pate.  What`s with all the legumes?  Why don't I just eat more tofu as it's low in fat and sky high in protein?  I have a soy intolerance, folks.  Tofu gives me a mighty tummy ache.  Although sometimes, in the name of vegan cheesecake, I'll grin and bear it.  So the occasional soy based recipe may pop up on here.  

ANYWAYS, back to the pate.  SO easy to make, whip it up the next time you have people over for some vino and you are sure to impress :)

 French Lentil Pate
1 cup french lentils (green lentils)
1 bay leaf
2 cups water or veggie stock
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp thyme (or whatever savory herbs you like!)
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp djon mustard
1 glass red wine
2 tbsp shoyu
olive oil

Bring the lentils and bay leaf to a boil in the water or stock.  Reduce to a simmer and cook the lentils with a lid on the pot until all the liquid is absorbed. 

Meanwhile, saute the onions and garlic until soft in a bit of safflower oil.  Add the thyme, paprika, wine, mustard and shoyu and stir until most of the liquid is absorbed.  Add the onion mixture to the cooked lentils and puree with an immersion blender or food processor until very smooth.  Season with S&P!

Serve the pate in a ramekin with a thin layer of olive oil drizzled over the top and lots of fancy crackers or crostini.

Ooh lala!

Kisses, V.V.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Spaghetti Overload

Dudes and Dudettes,

I haven't posted for a week already, how time flies!  I made a huge pot of spaghetti with homemade tomato sauce (same sauce as the one from the Penne with White Beans recipe, minus the beans and you can leave out the wine and just replace it with a little of the water that your spaghetti has cooked in) and have been living on it for about three days.  I call it the Sophia Loren Diet ("Everything you see, I owe to spaghetti." - Sophia Loren, when asked about how she maintained her famous figure). 

My multitude of siblings and their significant others (I was the ninth wheel) had a Mexican themed potluck dinner on Sunday night.  The Boom bought all the ingredients for my guacamole and I whipped it up for her (will post the recipe soon!) and my stepsista Teff made a DELISH couscous salad with black beans, corn, red onion, avocado, cilantro and lime...mmmmmmMMMMMMM.  I made a mock up of the twelve pound burritos of amazingness served at Burrito del Rio, all too conveniently located down the street from me here in Osborne Village.  Okay, maybe they aren't exactly twelve pounds, but the vegan burrito is ENORMOUS (when I carry it home, I carry it like a small infant...awww...but then I EAT IT!) and full of fresh, authentic flavours.  This ain't no Taco Bell, people!  My version of burritos is basically a filling made of up two cups of cooked brown rice mixed in a pot over medium heat with a can of diced tomatoes and a can of black beans that have been drained and well rinsed.  Then I throw in some sauteed onions and garlic, cinnamon, cumin, chili powder, cilantro, a drizzle of olive oil, maybe a splash of white wine if there's some lying around, and a squeeze of lime is nice too.  Season with S&P and roll 'em up in some homemade whole wheat tortillas.

It's Thanksgiving weekend coming up and I have a couple dinner's to attend so I will definitely have some festive recipes for ya!

Until then,

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Butternut Squash Soup with Mushroom Saute and Toasted Pepitas

Hey Babes,

Here's a classic fall soup brought to a whole other level with a saute of wild mushrooms and some toasted pepitas...mmmmmm...

Butternut Squash Soup with Mushroom Saute and Toasted Pepitas

1 butternut squash, halved, seeds scooped out and baked cut-side down in a 375 degree oven until soft (about 30-40 min)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
4-6 cloves garlic, chopped
4 cups water or veggie stock
1/8 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 cups chopped mushrooms (your choice! use mixed wild mushrooms, shitake, portabello, crimini JUST NOT WHITE BUTTON MUSHROOMS, THEY ARE SO BORING, PEOPLE!)
1 tbsp vegan butter
2 tbsp shoyu
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 cup toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

Saute the onions and garlic in the olive oil in your favorite soup pot over medium heat until they are nice and translucent and soft.  Add the water or stock and flesh of the butternut squash (just scoop it from the skin).  Bring to a boil over medium high and then reduce heat to low, add nutmeg, cinnamon and season with S&P.  Leave the soup to simmer while you make the mushroom saute..

Heat the vegan butter in a skillet over medium high heat.  Add the mushrooms and saute until browned.  Add the shoyu and thyme and cook until liquid is absorbed. 

At this point, you are gonna wanna puree your soup with an immersion blender or a regular blender (in batches).  Then you can add shoyu (for more umami), non-dairy milk (for creaminess), crispy sage leaves (for herbiness), hot sauce (for HAWT) or just plain old S&P to your taste.  It's your soup, go crazy!

To serve, ladle the soup into soup bowls and then carefully float a couple tablespoons of the mushrooms in the middle.  Sprinkle over the toasted pepitas and maybe a couple drops of good olive oil.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Deconstructed Veg Sushi

Hello Lovah's,

Today I have a recipe for sushi lovers who are either aprehensive about making sushi rolls at home for the first time or sushi lovers who are too lazy to roll.  I just took all the elements of a delish veggie maki roll and put them in a bowl!  Okay, the photo below of the finished product isn't in a bowl.  I made it into a fancy stack just for the sake of quality food porn.  But I encourage you to be as fancy or lazy as you like!  And go crazy with adding your fave sushi ingredients, maybe some julienned daikon, sauteed shitake mushrooms or a couple pieces of tempura yam...

Deconstructed Veg Sushi
serves two-ish
2 cups cooked rice
1 large carrot, grated
1 tbsp black sesame seeds (or toasted white sesame seeds)
1/2 cup finely diced cucumber
1 finely diced avocado
2 tbsp shoyu
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 sheet nori, cut into thin strips (crumbled if you're lazy)
toasted sunflower or pumpkin seeds for garnish (optional)
pickled ginger for garnish (optional)

Mix the cooked rice, carrot and sesame seeds in a bowl then divide into ring molds (fancy) or soup bowls (lazy).  Top the rice with the cucumber and avocado.  Whisk the shoyu, vinegar, sesame oil and wasabi (to your taste) together and then drizzle evenly over rice and veggies.  If you're using a ring mold like I did, this would be the time to remove it.  Top with the nori and optional garnishes.  How easy was that?  Seriously!


Monday, September 27, 2010

Midnight Banana Fritters


I was dying for a midnight snack and whipped up these AMAZING banana fritters on a whim.  They turned out so good, I HAD to blog about them right away!  They are somewhere between a banana pancake and a doughnut right out of the fryer.  Yes, they are a tad on the naughty side being fried sweeties and whatnot but sometimes you just gotta have dessert!  Just put on some music and dance party all the calories off...or you can go right to bed with a nice full tummy :)

Midnight Banana Fritters
1 banana, mashed (not to a puree, a few lumps are encouraged!)
1/3 cup whole wheat flour (hey, if they're gonna be fried, at least they're whole wheat)
pinch salt
pinch fresh ground nutmeg (nutmeg and bananas are BFF's <3)
pinch baking soda
two pinches baking powder
1 tsp vegan sugar or maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp non dairy milk
safflower oil for fryin'

Mix together all ingredients in a bowl.  The batter should be like thick pancake batter.  Heat two tablespoons of oil over medium heat.  Spoon a few small fritters into the hot oil and flip once the A side is nice and golden.  The B side will only take 30 seconds to a minute.  You may need to add a bit more oil after a batch or two.  Drain the fritters on paper towels after they come out of the pan and then EAT 'EM! 

This portion serves one PIG (a.k.a. yours truely).  Double the recipe, replace the milk with spiced rum and dust the hot fritters with cinnamon sugar for a very sexy dessert for two...ooh la la...

Sweet dreams :)

P.S. V.V. won a create-a-burger contest that Boon Burger posted on Facebook!  I sugessted their mushroom-rice patty with a soy-sweet chili glaze topped with a slaw of carrot, cabbage and green mango, drizzled with spicy sesame sauce.  They are going to be serving my creation at Boon Burger soon (they're calling it the ThaiTaste Burger, I think) so if you try it when it's being offered, let me know what you think!!! 

Vegan Pierogies!

Hey Babes,

I hate pierogies.  I realize that this probably makes me a blasphemous Winnipegger but please understand that there is not a stitch of Ukrainian blood in me and I didn't grow up with a baba from the 'old country' who carefully prepared the little potato-filled pillows from scratch.  My Dad is in the food business and one of his clients was a popular frozen pierogi brand, loved and adored by most people except me and those lucky buggers who have authentic, pierogi-making, Ukrainian baba's.  My StepMama used to make a pre ballet class/soccer game pierogi casserole when me and my four pierogi-loving siblings were kids that involved putting the frozen devils in a casserole dish with some slightly diluted canned mushroom soup, topped with cheddar cheese and baked.  Again, loved and adored by most except pierogi-hatin' me.

When Boomer travelled to Ukraine on a youth exchange program, she came back having learned the ways of cabbage rolls, borsht and pierogi's from an authentic Ukrainian baba.  Upon first bite, I was in love.  The Boom makes a vegan version for me that she fills with potatoes, caramelized onions and garlic - SO GOOD - but you can go crazy with the fillings!  Try sauteed cabbage or mushrooms and maybe some shredded vegan cheese...oh the possibilities...

Authentic Ukrainian Pierogies
(blood, sweat and tears from the 'old country', optional)

2 cups (ish, you might need more) flour (feel free to use whole wheat but it's hard to work with!)
1/2 cup (ish) water (again, you may need more)
1 tsp salt
2 cups mashed potatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, thinly sliced
6 garlic cloves, chopped

Mix together the flour, salt and water in a large bowl, adding more flour or more water as needed to create a smooth, slightly sticky dough.  Knead the dough on a floured surface until it becomes even more smooth and quite elastic.  Let the dough rest for about half and hour while you prepare the fillin'. 

Heat the oil on medium heat in a skillet.  Add the onions and garlic, sprinkle them with some S&P and cover with a lid.  Stirring every so often, cook the onions until translucent (about ten to fifteen min) then remove the lid and continue cooking them until they are golden brown.  Mix the onions and garlic with the mashed potatoes and season the filling with S&P. 

Roll half of the dough out on a floured surface to a nice think 1/8" thickness.  Using a round cookie cutter or water glass dipped in flour, cut circles out of the dough (and the remaining dough).  Put a dollop of filling in the middle of the circles, making sure not to overfill them, and then pinch them closed tightly. 

At this point you can dust them in flour, freeze them in an even layer on a baking sheet and then store in freezer bags until you use them OR go right ahead and drop them in a pot of boiling salted water until they float and then fry 'em up in vegan butter or oil until they are golden broooowwwwwnn.  Use the same method of cooking them right from frozen. 


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Penne with White Beans, Tomatoes and Wine

Hey Babes,

The cold I had last week was the third I've had since April.  My Momma stocked my medicine cabinet with all kinds of vitamins and insisted that I start eating more protein.  Protein is a building block for a healthy immune system, my friends, thus I cooked up a bag of dried white beans and made this wicked pasta dish!

  Penne with White Beans, Tomatoes and Wine
1 box whole wheat or brown rice penne
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp chili flakes (as always, more if ya like it HAWTA)
3 or 6 cloves garlic, minced (as garlicy as you like!!)
1 large glass of dry white wine
1 can diced tomatoes
2 tbsp chopped basil
1 tsp dried oregano leaves
1 cup cooked or canned (rinsed well) white beans

Cook the penne in plenty of salted boiling water until it becomes al dente (tender but with a bit of a bite).  Drain the pasta and set aside.  To save yourself some dishes, just use the same pot you used to cook the pasta to make the sauce.  Heat the olive oil on medium heat and add chili flakes.  Saute the garlic for precisely fifteen seconds and add wine (watch out, it's gonna get steamy!), tomatoes, herbs and beans.  Stirring every so often, bring the sauce to a boil and then add the cooked, drained pasta and simmer for five to ten minutes (this lets the pasta and sauce become BFF's).  Season with Salt n' Pepa.  Shoop Shoop.  Enjoy!


Not A Morning Person

Hello Dumplings!

First and foremost, I just want to say thank-you SO MUCH for all the comments from you (on my blog and facebook too)!  One never knows what to expect when they begin a blog.  Will it bring people together, or disappear into the abyss of the world wide web?  I can't tell you how COOL it is to know that you are reading my little blog and enjoying it!!!    GREAT BIG CYBER HUGS TO YOU ALL!!! 

Anyhoo....Let's get to the FOOD and STUFFING OF THE FACE!

If I could, I would sleep in every day until ten.   Alas, the nine-to-five work day/school day doth not provide such privileges.  I really don't enjoy eating first thing in the morning (I don't think I'm alone here) but unfortunately, breakfast is the most important meal of the day (I wish dinner was.  I'm for sure not alone on this one).  Homemade granola beats storebought by a longshot and makes even the haterest of breakfast hater's into breakfast lova's.  I like it with almond milk :)

P.S. Just to be clear, I love brunch!  Eating breakfast at 11:30 a.m. WITH cocktails?  Heck YESSS!!  I will be sure to post some brunch recipes for you soon :)      

V.V.'s Fave Granola
4 cups oats
1/2 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, flax, whatev combo you like)
1/2 cup chopped dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, cherries, apricots, currants, blueberries, figs, dates, apples, pears, so many choooiiiiicceeesss!!!)
1/3 cup chopped nuts (optional)
1/4 vegan sugar
1/3 cup safflower oil
2 tbsp maple syrup or brown rice syrup (honey is ok in a pinch in my books, though it's not technically vegan)
2 tsp good vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon

On a rimmed cookie sheet, toast the oats in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for about 10 - 15 minutes or until very lightly toasted.  In a big ol' bowl, combine the oats, coconut, seeds, dried fruit, and nuts if you're using them.  Combine the oil, syrup, vanilla and cinnamon and mix into the oat mixture really, really well until everything is coated.  Spread the mixture in an even layer on a large rimmed cookie sheet and bake for another ten minutes or until dry and toasty, making sure to stir it around half way through baking.   Cool in da pan, store in a big jar or resealable container!

Until next time,

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Zucchini Carrot Latkes

Happy Weekend!!!

I was craving some fried food yesterday so I whipped up a batch of Zucchini Carrot Latkes.  For those of you who have never been exposed to Yiddish cuisine, a latke is in essence, a potato pancake.  I have been fortunate to attend many a Hannukah celebration and each time GORGE myself of these crispy, lacy little delights.  Be wary fellow vegans as latkes often contain eggs and milk...just ask the Baba who brought them!  I make latkes out of all kinds of veggies and I encourage you to do the same.  These ones are potato free, particularily rich and gooey on the inside while retaining a nice oily crisp on the outside...delish!

Served with a pile of homemade macrobiotic pickles mmmmm mmmmm

Zucchini Carrot Latkes
Serves one very hungry mongrel

One medium sized zucchini, grated
One medium sized carrot, grated
One clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp shoyu
1 tsp seasame seeds (I used black ones!)
1/4 tsp chili flakes (or more if ya like em spicy)
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
Safflower oil for frying

Put grated zucchini and carrot in a paper towel lined strainer over a bowl.  Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and let sit for ten minutes.  Squeeze to drain juices.  Drink the juices from the bowl, or you can discard them but you're wastinga crazy amount of nutrients, people!  Combine the grated veg with the garlic, shoyu, sesame seeds, chili flakes and flour.  You should have a nice thick batter.  Meanwhile, heat a thin layer of oil over medium heat.  Drop spoonfuls of the batter into the oil and spread them into thin pancakes (don't over crowd your pan!).  Cook until browned, about 2 minutes and then flip and brown other side.  Keep the finished latkes warm in a 300 degree oven on a cookie sheet in a single layer while frying up the rest of the batter. 


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Boon Burger & Chocolate Coconut Sorbet

Hey Dolls,

I write to you alive and well and with a recipe for a very sweet and sexy treat!  But first: If you haven't already checked out Boon Burger Cafe here in 'Peg City, Manitoba, GET ON IT!!!!  It's Canada's very first vegetarian burger joint and even those of you who identify as omnivorous will LOVE it!  The vegan poutine made with oven baked sesame fries, homemade vegan gravy and Daiya cheese is MIND BLOWING (for real, my mind exploded.  It was such a mess on Sherbrook Street that day...).  Please go check it out, the staff are so cool and nice and the burgers, phenom! 

Speaking of MIND BLOWING (I'm beginning to think I have a problem...), I have a sweet and creamy and sexy, yes SEXY, recipe for you.  I believe that the world is made up of two kinds of people: people who hate coconut and people who love coconut.  I myself am of the latter persuasion so if you are too, it gives me great pleasure to present you with the following recipe for:

Chocolate Coconut Sorbet
(Honestly, it tastes more like rich creamy ice cream!  PLEASE use good vanilla!  Get someone to smuggle some back from their Mexican vacation for you!)

2 cans coconut milk
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup vegan sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut (if you want it smooth, omit.  If you love the texture of shredded coconut, put more!  I used about a 1/3 cup.)
2 tbsp (about a shot) spiced rum (optional, but YUM)

Whisk all ingredients together really, really, really well in a rectangular plastic container that has a lid.  Seal the container and scrape ice crystals every hour or so with a fork until totally frozen.  Let the sorbet sit out on the counter for ten minutes before you try to serve it. 

I even gave it a sexy background...

Make this sorbet and while it freezes go to Boon Burger for dinner!  But bundle up, it's getting chilly out there...