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Friday, October 21, 2011

Sexy Vegan Grilled "Cheese"

Happy Friday!!

Fred Penner once said, "Sandwiches are beautiful, sandwiches are fine."  Well said, Fred.  Beautiful and fine they are, but I find the grilled cheese variety downright sexy.  A buttery, crisp exterior and warm, gooey, melty, cheesy interior that just begs to be dipped in tomato soup or ranch dip is so seductively sinful.  And as if they aren't sexy enough, they take on a whole new level of sexiness when they are veganized!  Heavy on the compassion and cruelty free. . .ohhh baby. . .break me off a piece of that. . .

The grilled cheese is also one of the most rediculously easy sandwiches to master.  Once you have the basic technique down (butter, fill with cheese, fry, flip, fry, eat) you can take the sammy to a whole other level by adding your favorite spreads, veggies, herbs, vegan deli slices, WHATEVER! 

Sexy Vegan Grilled Cheese
-Two slices of your fave bread (white, multi-grain, rye, sourdough, pumpernickle, french, whatev!)
-Earth Balance vegan butter
-Vegan cheese, any flavour (I like the Daiya cheddar and mozza varieties)
That's all for a very basic grilled cheese.  Sexy?  Yes.  But to amp up the sex appeal, try adding:
-Vegan mayo
-Peach or mango chutney
-Spinach or arugula
-Sliced avocado
-Sliced tomato
-Grilled zucchini or eggplant
-Sauteed mushrooms
-Caramelized onions
-Chopped basil, cilantro or parsley
-Tempeh or tofu bacon
-Vegan deli 'ham' or 'turkey' slices


Insert Al Green's Greatest Hits into CD player (or download from iTunes).  If anyone will get you in the mood for sexiness, it's Mr. Al Green.

Heat a pan over medium heat.  Spread Earth Balance one side of both pieces of bread.  On the naked side of the bread, smear on any sauces, if using (V.V. used mayo and homemade peach chutney for the sandwich pictured above). 

Top one slice of the bread with grated or sliced vegan cheese.  Add any additional toppings on top of the cheese (V.V. used baby spinach) and top with additional cheese.  Squish the second slice of bread atop the cheesey slice, butter side up. 

Place the sandwich in the hot pan and fry until side A is golden brown.  Squish down the sandwich with a spatula and flip it to the B side.  Fry til golden.  

". . .Let's. . .let's stay together.  Lovin' you whether. . .whether times are good or bad, happy or sad. . ." - Al Green

Mmmmmm. . .yeah baby.  Grilled cheese. . .just the way I like it ;)



Monday, October 17, 2011

Roasted Garlic Pasta Sauce

Hey Babes!

I may have already mentioned that I am a pasta FREAK.  I could eat it all day, everyday and I am always finding new ways to top my oodles of noodles.  This is my new favorite pasta sauce.  It is super duper simple to make and it is so delish I actually jumped up and down when fork met mouth.  All you have to do is roast a few heads of garlic and puree them with some olive oil, S&P and a squeeze of fresh lemon and you have a rich, luxurious sauce that will WOW the tastebuddies.  You can use any shape of pasta - I used capelli d'angelo this time, but next time I would choose penne rigate instead.  You can garnish this pasta with whatever you like.  I used julienned roasted bell peppers for this round but you could add steamed broccoli, chopped oilves, roasted eggplant, sundried tomatoes, wild mushrooms, hemp hearts, crushed dried chilies, maybe a teeny splash of white wine, your fave herbs, what ever you like!  Make it your own!

Roasted Garlic Pasta Sauce
-6 large whole heads of garlic
-1 cup of olive oil (plus a drizzle or two extra)
-2 tbsp nutritional yeast
-the juice of one lemon

Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees.  Place the heads of garlic into a pan (pie plates or cake pans are perf) and drizzle with a few tbsp of olive oil.  Toss them to coat.  Roast in the oven for 50 - 60 min or until the heads are lightly golden brown and they squeeze easily with a pair of kitchen tongs.  Let the toasty bulbs coooool right down.

Slice the heads in half (morbid?) crosswise, between the top and root end, with a serrated knife and squeeze out the soft, buttery cloves into a blender. 

Puree the garlic on low speed in the blender and sloowwwwllly drizzle in the cup of olive oil until you have a nice, creamy-dreamy sauce.  Add the nutritional yeast and lemon juice and blend again. 

Taste the sauce and season with S&P.  Pour over your favorite pasta and toss gently.  Add what ever garnishes your little heart desires (or none at all) and NOSH!


The Vivacious Vegan

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Vegan Thanksgiving Feast!

Hey Pals,

Thanksgiving Day is upon us in Canada, one of my aboslute favorite holidays.  Sharing a festive meal with family and friends and enjoying the beauty of autumn can be hard for vegans when the star of the show is a big dead bird.  Making your own tofurkey complete with stuffing, cranberry sauce and gravy is very simple and sooooo very tasty!  Surround the tofurkey with a host of yummmmy yegan side dishes: mashed potatoes with veggie stock and Earth Blance butter, roasted yams with a sprinkle of cinnamon, green beans or brussel sprouts with toasted almonds and lemon zest, carrots with agave orange glaze. . .skies the limit!  My Nana used to make boiled, mashed turnips for Thanksgiving. . .ick.

Roasted Tofurkey, Mushroom Sage Stuffing and Gravy 
-2 bricks of extra firm tofu
-1/4 cup soy sauce + 1/3 cup for basting liquid
-1/4 cup nutritional yeast
-1 tbsp garlic powder
-1 tbsp poultry seasoning
-fresh ground pepper
-2 tbsp sesame oil
-1/4 cup Earth Balance Butter
-4 shallots (or one small onion and 3 cloves of garlic) diced
-2 stalks of  celery, finely diced
-2 cups of wild mushrooms, diced
-6 cups dried bread cubes (available in the bakery of your friendly neighborhhod grocery store)
-2 tbsp finely chopped sage leaves
-approx 2 cups of veggie stock
-1/2 cup veg oil
-3 cloves of garlic, minced
-1/2 cup all pourpose flour
-1 tsp poultry seasoning
-1 cup dry white wine
-1/4 cup soy sauce
-2 cups veggie stock

STEP 1 - Tofurkey Phase A:  Place two paper towels on a plate.  Place the blocks of tofu on the paper towel.  Place another paper towel over the tofu.  Top with a plate and place heavy cans and other objects on the tofu.  Leave for 1 hour so all the extra water drains out.

STEP 2:  While the tofu is being pressed, prepare the stuffing!  Heat the Earth Balance butter in a pan over medium heat.  Saute the shallots, celery and mushrooms with a sprinkle of S&P until the shallots are translucent, the celery is soft and the mushrooms are well cooked.  

Transfer the veg from the pan to a large mixing bowl and toss with the bread cubes and sage.  Add the veggie stock and mix.  You want the bread cubes to be very moist and the stuffing should be pretty sticky, so add more veggie stock as needed.  Season with S&P and set aside.

STEP 3 - Tofurkey Phase B:  Place the tofu, 1/4 cup soy sauce, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, poultry seasoning and pepper in a food processor and pulse until it becomes a smooth paste.  Alternatively, you can use your hands or a potato masher for this job! 

Line a colander with cheese cloth or a paper towel and place it over a plate or bowl.  Put the tofu mixture into the lined colander and press it down so it's nicely packed in there and the top is flat.  Place a small plate on the top and a heavy can or two on the plate and let sit in the fridge for two hours. 

STEP 4 - Tofurkey Phase C:  Remove the cans and plate from the tofu.  With a spoon, caaaareeeefully scoop out the inner part of the tofu, as if you're making a bowl out of it, leaving a 1" border.  Set the scooped tofu aside.  Fill the cavity with stuffing just to the rim of the tofu bowl.  Cover the stuffing with the reserved tofu, sealing the tofurkey and making the top nice and flat. 

Oil a baking sheet well with veg oil and place on top of the colander.  In a quick, fluid motion, flip the colander onto the baking sheet and release the tofurkey dome.  Remove the cheesecloth/paper towel from the tofurkey dome. 

STEP 5 - Tofurkey Phase D: Mix together the remaining soy sauce and sesame oil and baste the tofukey with it.  Cover the Tofurkey with foil and place in a pre-heated 400 degree oven.  Roast the tofurkey for 25 minutes, remove the foil, baste again and bake for an additional 25 minutes or until the tofurkey is golden brown.  Baste again before serving. 

STEP 6:  GRAVY!!!  While the tofurkey is roasting, heat the veg oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat.  Add the garlic and saute until translucent.  Add the flour and poultry seasoning and cook for one minute, stirring constantly. 

Add the wine, soy sauce and veggie stock and whisk to combine (no one wants lumpy gravy!).  Bring the gravy to a boil and cook until thickened.  Add more stock if tooooo thick.  Season with S&P.

To serve:  Slice the tofurkey into wedges and serve alongside mashed potatoes, your fave veg side dishes and a sea of vegan gravy!



Vivacious Vegan

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Tofu Scramble!

. . .from a looonnngggg and busy week.
Helllooo my dears!

I used to scoff at scrambled tofu.  How could it even be the least bit tasty?  It should be said that I used to eat scrambled eggs almost every day, loaded with cheddar cheese, tomatoes and dill and cooked to perfection in lots of butter. . .   The idea that plain, crumbled tofu fried up with some veggies could make a comparable, let alone tasty, breakfast choice seemed outrageous. 

BUT I finally took the plunge.  Used up half a block of firm tofu that had been awaiting it's fate for almost a week and was SO impressed at how num num NUMMY scrambled tofu really is!

Served up with a pile of homemade hasbrowns, tempeh or tofu bacon and a bowlful of blueberries, I am sittin' pretty today, my friends!  Happy Sunday <3

Tofu Scramble
-2 tbsp veg oil
-2 cloves garlic, chopped
-1 block firm tofu
-2 cups (or more) of your favorite veggies (I used sliced mushrooms, broccoli and diced tomatoes)
-2 tbsp nutritional yeast
-2 tbsp soy sauce

Heat the oil in a pan over medium high-ish heat.

Crumble the tofu up and add to the hot pan.  Brown the tofu a little bit and then add the garlic and veggies.  If you're using soft veg like tomatoes, wait to add them until a little later in the game, if you over cook them they will turn into mush. . .unless that's what you're into. . .Saute until the veg are nice and tennnder.

Sprinkle over the nutritional yeast and soy sauce and cook until they are absorbed by the tofu and veg.  Season with a teeny bit of S and a lot of fresh ground P. 


Add what ever kind of herbs, spices, veggies, vegan cheeses, vegan sausage or diced vegan ham, hawt sauce, cooked beans, whaaaaaat evvaaaaaaaaaaaaa MUAH!



Saturday, October 1, 2011

Sweet Potato Lentil Curry

Hey Dolls,

October has arrived and with it, the notion that cold weather is in our midst.  While I do find it sad that Summer has passed, cold weather = yummy cold weather comfort food.  One thing I find extremely comforting to eat is a big bowl of CURRY!  Warm, spicy and flavorful yumminess is just the thing I need on a chilly fall evening (and maybe a big mug of chai tea with vanilla soymilk, too!). 
Curries are super easy to make and you can put just about anything in them.  There are a gazillion different curry spice blends out there, but for this recipe I am just going to utilize simple, medium yellow curry powder.  We'll get to the green, red, tandoori, garam masala, phanaeng, and madras varieties another time :)  I find curry tastes even better the next day and it freezes beautifully, so make lots!

Sweet Potato Lentil Curry
-2 tbsp veg oil
-1 large onion, diced
-1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
-3 stalks of celery, chopped
-6 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
-1/2 a large head of cauliflower, chopped into bite sized florets
-1 tsp ground cinnmon
-1 - 2 tbsp curry powder (depending on how strong you like it)
-2 tomatoes, diced
-1 cup brown lentils

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium high-ish heat.  Add the onion, sweet potato, celery, garlic and cauliflower to the pot and sprinkle with cinnamon and curry powder and a bit of S&P. 

Cover with a lid and cook for about ten minutes, stirring often. 

 Add the tomatoes and lentils and cover with approx three cups of water, juuuuuust enough to barely cover the veg.

Bring the curry to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium.  Let the curry simmer until the lentils and sweet potatoes are very soft.  I like to reduce the heat to medium low once the lentils are just cooked, and then simmer the curry for an hour so the flavours become bff's.

Serve over brown basmati rice.  Maybe with some peach chutney or sliced banana or toasted almonds as a garnish :)