Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sun-Dried Tomato 'Cheesecake'

This savory cheesecake is not a dessert, but a beautiful party appetizer in place of, say, a cheese ball. And of course, instead of regular cream cheese, I used Tofutti's vegan Better Than Cream Cheese.

Ahead of time, you also want to make the vegan equivalent of cottage cheese for this recipe. In a bowl, combine 1 and 1/4 cups crumbled lite firm tofu (about 7 ounces) with 2 teaspoons lemon juice and 1/8 tsp. salt. Mash with a fork until the mixture resembles cottage cheese, then chill in the fridge for about 5 hours.

To make the crust, place 5 (1-ounce) slices of whole wheat bread in a food processor and pulse about 10 times until you have coarse crumbs. I used the organic whole wheat bread from the Vermont Bread company.

Combine the breadcrumbs in a bowl with 1/2 cup chopped parsley, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. grated lemon rind, and 1/2 tsp. black pepper.

Melt 1 tablespoon vegan butter (such as Earth Balance) in a small skillet over medium heat. Add 1 teaspoon olive oil and 1 minced garlic clove; cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Pour over the breadcrumb mixture, and stir to combine with a fork.

Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper - I felt like I was back in art class, cutting out a circle to fit! Press the breadcrumb mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Set aside.

(Note: if you don't own a springform pan, I highly recommend buying one. I might not use mine often, but when a recipe calls for one, it is invaluable).

Meanwhile, pour boiling water over 1 and 1/4 cups of sun-dried tomato halves (packed without oil). Let stand for 30 minutes, then drain and finely chop. Set aside.

Place your 'cottage cheese' in a blender or food processor, and process until smooth. Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, 1/4 tsp. salt, 4 (yes 4!) 8-ounce packages of vegan cream cheese, and the equivalent of 2 eggs using egg replacer (such as Ener-G). Process until smooth. I let the 'cream cheese' stand at room temperature just about 10 minutes ahead of time, but you don't really need to worry about letting them soften.

Add the chopped sun-dried tomatoes, 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil and 1/2 cup chopped canned artichoke hearts (drained). Process until smooth - and pink!

Pour the mixture evenly over the crust in your pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, then let cool to room temperature.

Once at room temperature, cover and chill; once chilled, cut into 24 wedges.

Bring back to room temperature before serving. One wedge plus about 3 Melba toast rounds makes a great little appetizer nosh of 170 calories. I like the organic Melba toast crackers from Devonsheer - you'll want 72 crackers total, which means buy 2 boxes.

whole wheat bread $4.39
parsley $1.69
sun-dried tomatoes packed without oil $2.69
lite firm tofu $2.69
vegan cream cheese $13.26
basil $2.99
canned artichoke hearts $3.39
Melba toast rounds $5.38

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Corn and Two-Bean Burgers with Chipotle Ketchup

These burgers are as hearty and juicy as anything you could make with beef!

Rinse and drain one (15-ounce) can of kidney beans and one (15-ounce) can of black beans - make sure to drain them well, so your final burgers aren't watery. Partially mash the beans together in a large bowl with the back of a fork.

Add 1/3 cup breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup canned corn (drained), 1/4 cup finely chopped onion and the equivalent of one egg using egg replacer (such as Ener-G).

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Form your bean mixture into 4 equal patties of about 1/2 an inch thick. Cook in the skillet for 4 minutes on each side.

While the burgers are cooking, combine 1/3 cup ketchup (Organicville's is certified vegan!), 1 teaspoon agave nectar (in place of honey), 1 teaspoon lime juice, 1/2 tsp. chipotle chile powder, and 1/2 teaspoon cumin.

Chipotle chile powder has a nice kick and smokiness to it that regular chile powder doesn't provide, so definitely try give a look for it - check the Mexican section of your grocery store.

For the buns, you can use Kaiser rolls or hamburger buns. I did find vegan kaiser rolls in Whole Foods' bakery section, but I preferred to use the whole wheat hamburger buns from Rudi's Organic Bakery.

So, on the bottom of each of 4 (2-ounce) buns or rolls of your choice, spread about 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of the ketchup mixture. Top with one burger pattie. You could also top with lettuce leaves and tomato slices, if you like. Each burger is 450 calories.

canned kidney beans $1.79
canned black beans $1.79
canned corn $0.89
lime $0.59
chipotle chile powder $6.99
hamburger buns $3.99

Monday, September 28, 2009

Savory Herb Sun-Dried Tomato Scones

I had to make this recipe twice - and I'll tell you when I get to the problem, below. Hopefully you'll have success on your first try, as these savory scones make a delicious accompaniment to a bowl of soup or main course salad. You can freeze leftovers for up to 2 months; simply thaw at room temperature before eating.

Cover 1/2 a cup of sun-dried tomato halves (packed without oil) with boiling water, and let stand for 20 to 30 minutes, until soft. Drain well, and chop; set aside.

Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

Lightly spoon 2 cups all-purpose flour into measuring cups, leveling with a knife. Combine the flour in a large bowl with 1/4 cup shredded vegan cheese in place of Romano (I used the vegan mozzarella from Galaxy Foods), 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary, 2 teaspoons dried oregano, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. baking soda, and a dash of ground red pepper. I realized I was out of ground red pepper, but since it was just a dash, I omitted it without compunction.

Cut 1/4 cup of chilled vegan butter (such as Earth Balance) into small pieces, and cut the pieces into the flour mixture using a pastry blender or two knives - the mixture should resemble coarse crumbs. Stir in the chopped sun-dried tomatoes.

Make 1 cup of vegan buttermilk by pouring 1 tablespoon lemon juice into a measuring cup, then filling with plain soy milk (such as Silk) to equal one cup. Let stand for 5 minutes to clabber (sour) the mixture.

Now! Here is my word of caution. The first time around, I poured in the whole cup of 'buttermilk', and stirred to combine, as directed. The original recipe cautioned that the result would be sticky, but mine was so wet and gloppy it was utterly unworkable - even after I dumped in extra flour! Realizing I had a hopeless mess on my hands, I cleaned the dishes, cleaned up the kitchen, tossed the gloppy dough, and started over... I know, I'm a perfectionist.

So when I reached this step the second time around, I slowly poured in my 'buttermilk', stirring as I went, and judging the texture of the dough. When it was sticky but still usable, I stopped, which was around 3/4 cups of the 'buttermilk' instead of the full cup.

Now, turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and, using floured hands, lightly knead the dough about 4 times. Divide in half and place on the baking sheet you previously lined with parchment paper. Pat each half into a 6-inch circle - re-flour your hands if you need to. Lightly score the dough to cut each circle into 6 wedges, but don't cut all the way through the dough.

Bake at 425 degrees for 12 minutes - the tops should be nice and golden.

Each of the 12 scones is 140 calories. They'll pull apart quite easily along your scored knife cuts.

sun-dried tomatoes $2.69
all-purpose flour $3.99
vegan cheese $3.39
fresh thyme $4.98 (which includes buying it twice...)
baking powder $
fresh rosemary $2.49
dried oregano $4.49

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Tembleque (Coconut Custard)

Tembleque is a coconut custard that hails from Puerto Rico. The translation I found online was "violent shaking" and if that is true, it's quite adorable, because this pudding does indeed shake once it has chilled and set! Make it ahead of time so it has time to chill - ideally overnight, although mine was fine after about 9 hours.

In a saucepan, combine 6 tablespoons raw sugar with 1/4 cup cornstarch, a dash of salt and 20 ounces (about 1 and 1/2 cans) of light coconut milk. Bring to a boil over medium heat, and once boiling, cook for 1 minute. Definitely don't be tempted to turn the heat up any higher. When I did momentarily, the cornstarch began to stick to the bottom of the saucepan.

Remove from heat and stir in 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract and just a drop of coconut extract. For both, I highly recommend the extracts from Frontier Natural Flavor, which are all natural:

Strain the mixture through a sieve over a shallow dish - my 8x8-inch baking dish worked fine. I assumed that meant I should discard any solids that accumulated in the sieve, i.e. a few chunks of cornstarch, although the original recipe did not specify to do so.

Cover the surface of the custard with plastic wrap and, as mentioned above, chill.

Divide the custard evenly among 5 small bowls - teacups work well too! Sprinkle the tops evenly with just a dash of cinnamon. Each serving is 160 calories.

light coconut milk $4.78
coconut extract $6.69

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Classic Mojito

Mojitos - a classic Cuban concoction of rum, mint, sugar, lime juice, and club soda - used to be one of my favorite bar drinks to order - until I learned some years ago that regular granulated sugar wasn't vegan and became more careful. Luckily I can still make this delicious drink quite easily at home!

Place 2 tablespoons raw sugar and 15 fresh mint leaves in the bottom of a 2-cup measuring cup. Crush with a wooden spoon - I like mine really finely crushed, so there are no big chunks of mint. Add 1/4 cup white rum (such as Bacardi Silver) and 1 and 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice; stir until the sugar dissolves. Pour in 1/4 cup chilled club soda - I discovered the delightfully quaint seltzer water sold in an old-fashioned glass bottle from Boylan Bottle Co. and couldn't resist buying it.

Looks like their sodas are vegan-friendly, too, so check them out:

Place 1/2 cup ice cubes in a tall glass. Pour in the mojito mixture, and serve immediately! This makes enough for 1 drink of 240 calories. Keep extra limes and mint around, because people will want to make their own.

mint $1.99
limes $0.66
club soda $1.50

Friday, September 25, 2009

Individual Tiramisu Trifles

I saw this recipe and thought it sounded divine, only then to discover that there exists no such thing on the market as vegan ladyfingers. Ladyfingers being almost entirely made of eggs, I guess no one has bothered to produce a version that is vegan-friendly.

I was determined not to give up. I found one source online suggesting commercial vanilla wafers as a substitute, but this person must not realize that vanilla wafers (i.e. Nilla wafers from Nabisco) are also not vegan. Even organic varieties I found contained milk or egg ingredients.

Finally, I stumbled across a recipe for vegan tiramisu online, including vegan ladyfingers. It served quite a crowd though, whereas I only wanted my recipe to make 9 desserts. I decided perhaps I could cut their suggested recipe amounts by one-third, which is what I did, although it meant the quantities involved are sometimes odd. But here's how I made my 'ladyfingers':

Spoon 2/3 cup whole wheat flour into measuring cups and level with a knife. Combine in a large bowl with 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 tablespoon raw sugar and a dash of salt.

Make the equivalent of one egg using egg replacer (such as Ener-G). Combine with 1/3 cup plain soy milk (such as Silk), 1 tablespoon agave nectar (in place of honey) and 2 teaspoons canola oil. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and stir just until moist.

Coat an 8x4-inch loaf pan with cooking spray, and pour the batter into the bottom of the pan, spreading to cover evenly (it will only be about a 1/2-inch thick layer). Bake at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes, then cool on a wire rack.

Cut these "ladyfingers" into small cubes - crosswise 6 times and 15 times lengthwise so you have 90 small cubes total. Set aside.

Meanwhile, combine 1 cup cold strong brewed coffee with 3 tablespoons marsala wine. I made the mistake a) of not giving my coffee enough time to cool all the way and b) using a French press which I really didn't understand how to use, ergo I ended up with a lot of coffee granules floating around by accident. Oh well; you win some you lose some. Set aside.

Beat 12 ounces (about 3/4 cup) of softened vegan cream cheese (such as Tofutti's Better Than Cream Cheese) until smooth, then gradually beat in 3/4 cup raw sugar.

In each of 9 wineglasses, place 5 'ladyfinger' cubes. Top with 1 tablespoon coffee mixture and 1 and 1/2 tablespoons 'cream cheese' mixture. Repeat the layers in all 9 glasses. Sprinkle the tops evenly with 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder.

Cover and chill for at least one hour, although you can make these up to a day ahead, which makes them a great dessert for a dinner party. Each individual trifle is 230 calories.

Marsala $7.99
vegan cream cheese $3.49

Thursday, September 24, 2009

'Italian Sausage' and Fennel Lasagna

Sausages proved a slightly trickier vegan imitation meat to find; vegetarian options abound - Boca, LightLife - but contain eggs. Tofurkey, however, makes sausages that are certified vegan in several flavors, including Italian sausage and Kielbasa (Polish sausage). The original recipe actually called for a 10-ounce package of Boca's Italian sausage, but since it wasn't vegan, I went with Tofurkey. Tofurkey's sausages are sold by the 14-ounce package, however, so I only used 2 of the 4 sausages for this recipe and set the other 2 aside for later!

I also had to do some vegan substituting for cottage cheese and ricotta, which basically meant tofu, tofu, and more tofu. Make the 'cottage cheese' ahead of time by combining 12 ounces of lite firm tofu with 3 teaspoons lemon juice and 1/4 tsp. salt; mash with a fork until the mixture resembles cottage cheese and then chill - ideally about 5 hours, although I only had time to chill mine for 3.

Simply crumbling lite silken tofu does a nice job of imitation ricotta, but you won't need that until later...

Okay, so with all of those vegan necessities aside, here's the dish! This one feeds a crowd:

Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 2 cups chopped fennel and 1 and 1/2 cups chopped onion; saute for 5 minutes.

Add 4 and 1/2 cups spaghetti sauce (I used the pasta sauce from Amy's, which is certified vegan), 1/2 cup water, 2 chopped meatless Italian sausages (or approximately 10 ounces worth), and 1 (8-ounce) can of tomato sauce. The original recipe called for a no-salt-added tomato sauce, which unfortunately I couldn't find, so I figured my sodium levels could suffer for one night.

Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. Set aside.

Meanwhile, combine your pre-made 'cottage cheese' in a blender with the equivalent of 2 eggs using egg replacer (such as Ener-G); process until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and stir in 1 cup crumbled lite silken tofu in place of ricotta, 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning and 2 minced garlic cloves.

The original recipe called for pre-cooked lasagna noodles, but I couldn't find an organic variety that was sold this way. So while the sauce simmered, I also cooked 9 lasagna noodles (8 ounces) according to package directions. Drain in a sieve and immediately rinse with cold water.

To assemble the lasagna: spread 1 and 1/2 cups of the sauce mixture on the bottom of a 13x9-inch baking dish. Arrange 3 lasagna noodles over the sauce. Top with 3/4 cup 'ricotta' mixture, 1 and 3/4 cups sauce mixture and 1/3 cup shredded vegan mozzarella (such as Galaxy Foods). Repeat the layers - 3 noodles, 3/4 cups 'ricotta', 1 and 3/4 cups sauce, 1/3 cup mozzarella.

Top with the final 3 noodles. Spread any remaining sauce mixture over the top - I had quite a lot left - probably over 2 cups worth! I hope this was intended. Oddly enough, I also had a lot of 'ricotta' mixture leftover, which almost made me feel I was supposed to have another layer in there somewhere, but I ended up just discarding the excess 'ricotta'.

Coat a piece of aluminum foil with cooking spray and cover the lasagna (I assumed coated-side down). Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes.

Uncover and sprinkle with an additional 1/3 cup + 1/2 cup shredded vegan mozzarella. Continue baking, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

This makes enough to serve 8; each piece is 390 calories.

fennel $2.69
onion $0.94
spaghetti sauce $15.98 (for 2 cans, though I had some excess!)
meatless Italian sausage $2.99
canned tomato sauce $1.09
lite firm tofu $2.69
lasagna noodles $2.99
vegan mozzarella $3.39

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Veggie 'Sausage' and 'Egg' Strata

My experimentation with vegan imitation meats on the market continues apace, this time trying out breakfast sausage patties for the first time. I used the ones from Yves, which are certified vegan.

Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat, and lightly coat with cooking spray. Add one (8-ounce) package of meatless breakfast sausage patties; cook the patties for 5 minutes, turning halfway through cooking. Chop and set aside.

Coat a 8-inch square baking dish with cooking spray, and arrange 3 (1-ounce) slices of white bread with the crusts cut off over the bottom of the dish. Vermont Bread company is a good choice, but the grocery store was out of stock so I purchased a loaf from Matthew's All Natural, which was also vegan.

Layer the 'sausage' atop the bread slices, along with 1/4 cup shredded vegan cheddar (such as Galaxy Foods). Top that with 3 more slices of bread, crusts cut off.

To replace the egg substitute in the original recipe (Note: don't confuse this with egg replacer; egg substitute still contains egg!) I combined 8 ounces of lite silken tofu in a blender with 2 tablespoons water and 1 tablespoon cornstarch, processing until smooth.

Combine the 'egg' mixture in a large bowl with 1 and 1/4 cups plain soy milk (such as Silk), 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/8 tsp. black pepper, stirring with a whisk. Pour over the bread mixture, and let stand for 30 minutes.

Sprinkle with an additional 2 tablespoons of vegan cheddar, then bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before dividing into 4 equal servings of 290 calories each.

meatless breakfast sausage patties $3.49
white bread $3.29
vegan cheddar $3.39
plain soy milk $2.49
lite silken tofu $2.69

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Curry Ginger Butternut Squash Soup

The title of this soup just sounds like fall! Good timing, because as of today, Happy Autumn. This is one of those dishes where I recommend doing all of your chopping before you turn on a single burner.

Heat a teaspoon of vegetable or canola oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 1 and 1/2 tablespoons chopped and peeled fresh ginger and 1 large minced garlic clove; saute for 90 seconds. Add 1 teaspoon curry powder and cook for 15 seconds, stirring constantly. Add 1/2 cup mirin (rice wine - I like the one from Eden Foods, without any added sugar) and cook for 4 minutes; it should be reduced to about 1/4 cup.

Add 3 cups (1/2-inch) cubed butternut squash, 3 cups vegetable broth, and 1 and 1/4 cups (1/2-inch) cubed celeriac (aka celery root). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Transfer half of the mixture to a blender and process until smooth - it's a good idea to remove the center piece of your blender's lid and cover with a paper towel instead, so steam can escape. Strain the pureed mixture through a sieve over a bowl, reserving the liquid and discarding the solids - I find that pressing with the back of a spoon is helpful. Repeat with the remaining half of the mixture.

Stir in 1 teaspoon thawed frozen orange juice concentrate (I used the one from Cascadian Farm), 1/2 teaspoon Sriracha, and 1/4 tsp. salt.

I wrote recently about Sriracha in another post - although in America it generally refers to the generic big red bottle you see on Thai restaurant tables, the term actually applies to any Thai hot chile sauce. For that reason, don't buy that generic kind (from Huy Fong; it contains fish sauce). The hot red chile sauce from Thai Kitchen is certified vegan, and a much better alternative.

Ladle 1 cup of soup into each of 4 bowls. Dollop each serving with 1 tablespoon plain soy yogurt (such as Whole Soy) and sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. chopped flat-leaf parsley. Each serving is 180 calories.

ginger $0.48
butternut squash $3.17
vegetable broth $2.69
celeriac $2.47
orange juice concentrate $4.39
hot chile sauce $3.00
flat-leaf parsley $1.69

Monday, September 21, 2009

'Pepperoni', 'Provolone', and Pesto Stromboli

Of course there is neither real pepperoni nor real provolone in my recipe, but I liked the way the three "P's" rolled off the tongue in the name of the dish. For 'pepperoni', I recommend Light Life's vegan-certified meatless pepperoni, and for the 'provolone' I shredded the vegan mozzarella from Galaxy Foods.

Stromboli are similar to calzones, but rather than being a pocket of dough stuffed with a filling, the dough is rolled up like a jelly-roll cake around the filling, then baked and sliced. So on that note, tonight we start with the dough:

Combine 1 cup warm water (check that the temperature is between 100 and 110 degrees with a thermometer) with 1 packet (2 and 1/4 teaspoons) of yeast; let stand 5 minutes.

Lightly spoon 3 cups all-purpose flour into measuring cups, and level with a knife. Add the flour to the yeast mixture, along with 1 tablespoon raw sugar and 1/4 tsp. salt. Stir until combined, then turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.

Knead for 5 minutes, adding up to 2 tablespoons more flour as needed to prevent the dough from sticking to your hands - I only needed 1 tablespoon extra. A reminder on kneading: push the dough away from your with the heel of your hand. Fold it over on itself. Turn it a quarter turn. Repeat!

Place the dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat the top of the dough as well. Cover and let rise for 1 hour, ideally some place about 85 degrees and free from drafts. Punch the dough down and let it rest for 5 minutes.

Coat a 15x10-inch jelly-roll pan (aka a baking dish) with cooking spray, and pat out the dough to fill it. Spread 1/3 cup bottled pesto over the dough, leaving a 1-inch border. When buying pesto, just make sure there is no milk or cheese in the ingredients.

Top the dough evenly with 1 and 1/2 cups shredded vegan cheese in place of provolone, 1/4 cup chopped and pitted kalamata olives, 1 (7-ounce) bottled of roasted red bell peppers - drained and chopped - and 1 (4-ounce) package of meatless pepperoni. Press gently into the dough.

Starting on one long (15-inch) edge, roll the dough up jelly-roll style, pressing along the seam to seal. Place the dough, seam-side down, on the pan, and cut 4 slits along the top of the dough; let rise for 30 minutes.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes, then slice into 8 slices crosswise. Each slice if 370 calories.

vegan cheese $3.39
kalamata olives $5.99
bottled roasted red bell pepper $2.49
meatless pepperoni $4.79

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Biscuits and Vegetarian 'Sausage' Gravy

My vegetarian sausage gravy is, of course, easily made vegan with soy milk and vegan ground sausage. It was the biscuits, paradoxically, that proved a problem when I tackled this recipe, because the original version called for a 16.3 ounce can of refrigerated biscuit dough. The most common brand is Pillsbury, of course, but their biscuit dough and every other brand I could find were chalk full of things like buttermilk, eggs, and um... beef tallow. Eeew.

I finally admitted to myself that I wouldn't be able to find convenient pre-made vegan biscuits, but my next option was to scare up a quick easy biscuit recipe online and work a little vegan magic on it. So here is a recipe for simple biscuits:

Lightly spoon 1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour into measuring cups, leveling with a knife. Combine the flour with 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1/2 tsp. salt.

Cut in 3 tablespoons of vegan butter (such as Earth Balance), cut into small pieces - you can use a pastry blender, two knives, or the back of a fork - until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

In a bowl, whisk together 1/3 cup plain soy milk (such as Silk) and 1/3 cup plain soy yogurt (such as Whole Soy); add to the flour mixture and stir just until moist.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and lightly knead about 3 times. Pat into 1/2-inch thickness, and cut into 8 biscuits using a 2-inch biscuit cutter. I had to get a little creative here, because the cookie cutter I have at home is only about 1-and-a-half inches across, so I sort of doubled up my biscuits in two smaller circles each., and had to regather the scraps of my dough and re-pat it out a couple of times.

Place the 8 rounds on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Lightly brush the tops with 2 additional teaspoons of soy milk. Bake at 400 degrees for 18 minutes.

Now onto the gravy!

Heat a tablespoon of vegetable or canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 of a 14-ounce package of Lightlife's Gimme Lean meatless ground sausage, and cook for 3 minutes (I broke it apart with a wooden spoon as it cooked). Remove from heat and let cool slightly, then break further down into about 1/2-inch big pieces. Return to the pan.

Lightly spoon 1/4 cup all-purpose flour into a measuring cup and level with a knife. Combine the flour with 3 cups soy milk and whisk until smooth. Add the soy milk mixture to the pan, along with 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. black pepper; bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then cover, reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes.

My gravy still wasn't quite thick after those 3 minutes, so I uncovered and cooked about 2 minutes more, stirring frequently, and then it seemed thick enough.

Slice your biscuits in half, and place 2 halves on each of 8 plates. Spoon 1/3 cup gravy over each plate.

These are best served immediately, so the gravy doesn't make the biscuits soggy. Each serving is 270 calories. They make a great breakfast, or side dish.

meatless fat-free sausage $3.69
plain soy milk $2.49
plain soy yogurt $1.39

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Mango Martini

Time for a little bartending!

Crush some ice cubes in blender, and place the crushed ice in a martini shaker - I used about 5 cubes, but I'm sure you could use more or less.

Add 1/4 cup white rum, 2 tablespoons Triple Sec, 2 tablespoons mango juice and 2 teaspoons lime juice to the martini shaker; shake to combine. Strain the mixture into a martini glass. Garnish with mango slices if you like, for a pretty presentation.

This makes enough for an individual cocktail, of 250 calories.

For the rum, Bacardi Silver is vegan, according to the company. Ditto for Hiram Walker for the Triple Sec.

white rum $4.99
Triple Sec $7.99
mango juice $2.99
lime $0.33

Friday, September 18, 2009

Apple-Orange Pie

It feels like forever since I last baked a pie, but with a nip of fall in the air and apples overflowing the grocery store shelves, I decided it was time.

I also made a great discovery, thanks to this recipe. The original version called for Pillsbury's refrigerated pie dough, which is definitely not vegan. My go-to vegan pre-made pie crust has always been from Wholly Wholesome (sold in the freezer section), which is certified vegan, and which I knew I could use for single crust pies. What I didn't realize is that I could use it for double crust pies! Because 2, 9-inch crusts come to a package, simply let them thaw, invert one atop another, and crimp the edges together. This discovery made my afternoon baking a whole lot easier.

Before we get to the crust, though, start by carefully peeling the rind from 2, thin-skinned oranges, being careful not to get the white pithy part. Save the oranges themselves for another use (i.e. eat them as a snack!) and cut the rinds into strips of 1-inch long by 1/8-inch thick.

In a saucepan, combine 1 cup water with 1/4 cup agave necter (in place of honey) and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then add the orange rind. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes; the rind should be very soft. In full disclosure, I got impatient and mine only simmered for 27 minutes. Remove the rind with a slotted spoon, and discard the cooking liqiud.

Meanwhile, combine 1/2 cup organic brown sugar, 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, 1/8 tsp. ginger and a dash of salt in a large bowl.

Peel, core, and slice 6 medium Golden Delicious apples. I bought 6 apples originally, but once home, I decided they were closer to 'large' than 'medium', so only used 5 of them, which was probably the right choice lest my pie have overflowed its dish. The original recipe didn't specify how thin the apple slices should be; I made mine pretty thin, though not so thin as, say, for an apple tart.

Spoon half of the apple mixture into one pre-made 9-inch pie crust (such as Wholly Wholesome). Arrange the orange rind over the apples, then top with the second half of the apple mixture. Lightly brush the edges of the crust with water, then carefully remove the second 9-inch pre-made pie crust from its pan and invert atop the other; crimp the edges together.

(Note: if you prefer to make your crust at home, see my Thin French Apple Tart recipe)

Make 3 (1-inch) slits in the top of the crust with a knife. Make the equivalent of one egg using egg replacer (such as Ener-G) and lightly brush over the top and edges of the pie with a pastry brush - I only used about half of the resulting 'egg' mixture for this, and discarded the rest.

Place the pie on a baking sheet, and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Cool on a wire rack. You'll have 10 slices of 340 calories each.

And with that, a happy 35th birthday to my boyfriend.

thin-skinned oranges $1.00
Golden Delicious apple $5.87
pre-made pie crust $3.99

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Minestrone with Chickpeas

Make this garden-fresh minestrone while the last of the summer vegetables are on the market stands.

Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat and coat with cooking spray. Add 1/2 cup chopped eggplant, 1/2 cup chopped zucchini, 1/2 cup chopped yellow squash, 1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper, 1/4 cup chopped onion and 1 small minced garlic clove; saute 4 minutes.

Add 1 (14-ounce) can of vegetable broth and 1 (14-ounce) can of diced tomatoes, undrained, along with 1 bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Discard the bay leaf. Stir in 1 and 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley, 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh oregano, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/8 tsp. black pepper, 1 (15-ounce) can of rinsed and drained chickpeas and 1 and 1/2 teaspoons bottled pesto. Cook for 5 minutes.

The trick when buying pesto is to find one without cheese in it! My general survey of about 6 different varieties revealed 4 that did have cheese, and 2 that did not, so you shouldn't have too hard a problem finding one, but do make sure to read those ingredient lists carefully. I bought mine from Dean & Deluca.

Stir in 1 cup chopped fresh spinach, and then serve immediately. This makes enough for 4, 1-cup servings of 140 calories each, but double the recipe easily if you like.

eggplant $1.92
zucchini $0.76
yellow squash $0.78
canned vegetable broth $1.47
canned diced tomatoes $1.67
parsley $1.69
commercial pesto $13.00
oregano $2.49
canned chickpeas $1.79
fresh spinach $2.50

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Sun-Dried Tomato 'Tortellini' Soup

I put tortellini in quotation marks in the title because I have yet to find a variety that is vegan! If you know of one, please let me in on the secret. The original recipe called for 6 ounces of cheese tortellini, but the closest substitute I know is a brand of tofu ravioli (sold in the freezer section) from Soyboy, which is certified vegan. So that's what I use here for 'tortellini'.

The rest of the recipe is easy and quick, and perfect for these first cool fall nights.

Heat 3/4 tsp. olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 cup chopped onion, 1/2 cup (1/4-inch thick) slices of carrot, 1/3 cup chopped celery, and 1 minced garlic clove; saute for 5 minutes.

Add 2 and 1/2 cups vegetable broth, 1 cup water, 1 and 1/2 ounces chopped sun-dried tomatoes (buy the kind packed without oil), 1/4 tsp. dried basil, 1/8 tsp. black pepper, and 1 bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes.

Add the ravioli (or vegan tortellini if you can find it!), along with 1/2 cup chopped bok choy; cook for 7 minutes. Discard the bay leaf and ladle 1 and 1/2 cups of soup into each of 3 bowls. Each serving is 260 calories.

Full disclosure: I completely forgot to chop the sun-dried tomatoes before adding them! I decided to let the recipe cook all the way through, then removed the tomatoes with a slotted spoon, chopped 'em up, put them back in the pan, and briefly reheated the soup. Hey, whatever works.

carrot $0.10
celery $3.39
vegetable broth $3.79
tofu ravioli $3.79
bok choy $2.07

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Corn Fritter Casserole

This yummy dish is sort of like corn bead, sort of like corn pudding - it's really delicious for brunch alongside crispy vegan bacon and a fruit salad. You could also serve it as a side dish at dinner.

In a bowl, combine 3 tablespoons softened vegan butter (such as Earth Balance) with the equivalent of 3 eggs using egg replacer (such as Ener-G) and 1 (8-ounce) package of softened vegan cream cheese (I like Tofutti's Better than Cream Cheese). Don't forget that vegan butter/cream cheese don't take as long to soften as the real deal - in fact the vegan butter becomes soft quite quickly.

Stir those together with a whisk until smooth. Add 1/2 cup finely chopped onion, 1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper, and 1 (15-ounce) drained can of corn.

The recipe also called for a 15-ounce can of cream-style corn here. I really remember using cream-style corn in a recipe once before, and discovering a variety that did not include sugar in its ingredient list, but I can't find it in my records, alas, so had to improvise this time around. Instead, I made my own at home. Looking at regular corn versus cream-style, the real difference seemed to be the addition of cornstarch, as a thickener. So at home, I placed an undrained can of corn in a bowl, added 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, and stirred until combined. Then I added that to the big bowl along with the other recipe ingredients.

The next ingredient was also a bit of a vegan puzzler - an 8 and 1/2 ounce package of corn muffin mix. They recommended Jiffy, but Jiffy mix is full of awful things like animal lard. I bought an organic corn muffin mix from a company called Dr. Oetker Organics. This product came in a 12-ounce package, so using a kitchen scale, I measured out the correct weight - I'll use the leftover to make a few muffins for breakfast!

Dr. Oetker makes other great baking mixes as well, if you want to check them out:

Stir in your packaged corn muffin mix, along with 1/4 tsp. black pepper, and stir until well combined. Pour the mixture into an 11x7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray and bake at 375 degrees for 50 minutes - a toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean.

You'll have 9 servings of 2/3 a cup and 250 calories each.

red bell pepper $1.55
canned corn $2.78
packaged corn muffin mix $3.39

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sun-Dried Tomato Ketchup

Sun-dried tomatoes are the secret to this gourmet version of ketchup!

Pour 2 cups of boiling water over 1 and 1/2 cups of sun-dried tomatoes (buy the kind packed without oil) in a large bowl; let stand for about 30 minutes, until the tomatoes soften.

Meanwhile, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 3/4 cup chopped onion and 1 small minced garlic clove; saute 4 minutes.

In a blender, combine the tomato mixture (including the water), the onion mixture, 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 1 and 1/2 tablespoons organic brown sugar, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons tomato paste, and 1/2 tsp. salt. Puree until smooth.

Transfer the pureed mixture back into a saucepan - I used the same one from the onion mixture, but mopped up some of the excess olive oil with a paper towel, first. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then partially cover, reduce the heat, and simmer for 30 minutes; stirring occasionally.

Chill thoroughly before serving. This ketchup is delicious over veggie burgers or vegan hot dogs, or as dipping sauce for vegan chicken nuggets - for my photo model, I used a Bistro burger from Amy's. 1 tablespoon of the ketchup is 20 calories; it will last in the fridge for up to a week.

sun-dried tomatoes packed without oil $2.69
tomato paste $2.39

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Tofu Fried Rice

Rather than ordering Chinese take-out and worrying that it might not be vegan, make this tasty fried rice at home.

Cook 2 cups of uncooked instant rice (such as Minute rice) according to package directions. I opted for brown rice instead of white, since the original recipe didn't specify. Set aside.

Heat a tablespoon of vegetable or canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cut 1 (14-ounce) package of lite firm tofu into 1/2-inch cubes; add to the skillet and cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the pan.

Normally, 2 eggs would be added to the pan here. I tried once before to make Ener-G egg replacer approximate the egg in fried rice, but tonight I sort of messed up. Using the equivalent of 2 eggs, I added it to the skillet and let cook for about 2 minutes, until it 'set', and then removed from the pan and separated into smaller pieces. However, I wish I had let it cook longer - probably about 4 minutes - so that it was crisper and more 'fried'.

After you remove the 'egg', add an additoinal tablespoon of vegetable or canola oil to the skillet. Add 1 cup (1/2-inch thick) slices of green onion, 1 cup of frozen peas and carrots (thawed in advance), 2 teaspoons minced garlic and 1 teaspoon minced ginger; saute for 2 minutes.

I made a couple of mistakes here - my peas and carrots were really only about half-way thawed, but I shrugged that off. I also only added 1 teaspoon of garlic by accident! If you want to make your prep time even easier, you can buy bottled minced garlic and bottled minced ginger, both of which are available at grocery stores, but I minced my own at home fresh.

While the vegetable mixture sautes, combine 2 tablespoons unfiltered (nigori) sake, 3 tablespoons soy sauce (as always, I recommend low-sodium), 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce (try the certified vegan one from Premier Japan), and 1/2 teaspoon dark sesame oil. Set aside.

Add the cooked rice to the vegetables in the skillet; cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the tofu, the 'egg' and the soy sauce mixture; cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.

You'll have 4 servings of 1 and 1/2 cups and 380 calories each. Garnish with sliced green onions if you like, for a pretty presentation.

instant rice $2.59
lite firm tofu $2.00
green onions $0.99
frozen peas and carrots $1.99
sake $18.48
hoisin sauce $4.49

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Puerto-Rican Sangria

Unlike other sangrias, which often need to sit a while for the flavors to release, this one is best served immediately. What makes it traditionally 'Puerto-Rican' is the addition of dark rum. Prepare a large pitcher for friends!

In a pitcher, combine 1 and 1/2 cups lemon-lime soda (instead of Sprite, try the organic lemon-lime soda from Maine Root), 1 cup chopped pineapple, 1 cup chopped Granny Smith apple, 1/2 cup chopped mango, 1/4 cup orange sections, 1/4 cup dark rum (such as Bacardi Gold), 2 tablespoons raw sugar, and 1 (375-ml) bottle of dry white wine. Note: 375 ml is a "split" half-size bottle, not a regular full bottle. I used an organic Pouilly Fuisse, but any dry white will do just fine.

Serve immediately over ice - you'll have 6, 1-cup beverages of 140 calories each. Double this recipe if you really have a crowd!

lemon-lime soda $5.99
pineapple $3.59
Granny Smith apple $1.73
mango $2.49
orange $0.76
dark rum $5.44
dry white wine $14.99

Friday, September 11, 2009

Tofu Larb

Larb is a spicy appetizer, traditional in Thai and Laotian cooking. Typically, it uses minced meat, but instead I use crumbled tofu here. Serve these individually as appetizers, or have several as the main course of your meal.

In a bowl, combine 1/3 cup fresh-squeezed lime juice, 1 tablespoon raw sugar, 1 and 1/2 tablespoons miso tamari sauce (or other fish sauce replacement of your choice), 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper. Stir until the sugar dissolves, and set aside.

Crumble 2 (14-ounce) packages of lite firm tofu over several layers of paper towels. Cover with additional paper towels (preferably a recycled brand like Seventh Generation!) and let stand for 15 minutes.

Heat 2 teaspoons vegetable or canola oil and 1/2 teaspoon dark sesame oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 cups thinly, vertically sliced red onion, 3 minced garlic cloves and 2 thinly sliced serrano chiles; saute 3 minutes.

Add the tofu crumbles, and cook for 8 minutes, then stir in the lime juice mixture and cook one additional minute.

Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup chopped basil and 1/4 cup chopped mint.

Scoop 1/2 a cup of the tofu mixture into each of 9 large cabbage leaves - use either red or green cabbage, or a combination of the two, if you prefer! One filled cabbage leaf is 80 calories.

limes $0.99
lite firm tofu $4.00
red onion $1.07
garlic $0.99
serrano chiles $0.24
basil $2.99
green cabbage $3.91

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Shepherd's Pie

It's time for more fun with vegan imitation meats! I did some research into the origin of this dish, which was originally known as 'cottage pie' in Britain, and contained leftover meat topped with mashed potato, just as potatoes were becoming an edible crop available to the poor. In the late 1800s, the term 'shepherd's pie' began appearing, regardless of whether the meat used was mutton or cattle.

Well, aside from the interesting historical value of all that, it matters not a whit here because I used the meatless Smart Ground crumbles from Lightlife.

Heat a tablespoon of vegetable or canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 and 1/2 cups minced onion and cook for 5 minutes. Next, the original recipe said to add 14 large mushrooms. It indicated that this would be about 12 ounces, so I opted to go with the weight over the quantity, meaning I used 11 large mushrooms, weighing in at 12 ounces. Add the mushrooms - whole, which seemed odd! - and 3 minced garlic cloves to the skillet; continue cooking for 8 minutes. Any liquid generated by the mushrooms should be absorbed.

Stir in one (12-ounce) package of fat-free meatless crumbles (such as Lightlife), crumbling it in your hands as you go.

Spoon 1/4 cup all-purpose flour into a measuring cup and level with a knife. Combine the flour in a bowl with 1 and 1/2 cups plain soy milk, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. black pepper, stirring with a whisk. Add the flour mixture to the skillet, and bring to a simmer; continue cooking for 2 minutes.

Transfer the mixture to an 11x7-inch baking dish. Evenly spread one drained (11-ounce) can of corn, over the top of the mixture - just give the ingredients on the canned corn a quick scan to make sure there is no added sugar in whatever brand you buy.

For the mashed potato topping, the original recipe called for a 20-ounce package of refrigerated potatoes, prepared according to package directions. Every brand I found, however, had milk and butter already in the mix. Instead, I bought the dehydrated instant mashed potatoes from Whole Foods' 365 brand, since these are a snap to prepare. To make the equivalent of a 20-ounce package, I combined 3 cups water with 2 cups of the flakes, and stirred in 3/4 cups of plain soy milk - check package directions of any variety you buy for specific measurements etc.

Stir 1/2 cup vegan sour cream (such as Tofutti's Better Than Sour Cream) and 2 tablespoons vegan butter (such as Earth Balance) into the mashed potatoes. Spread the mashed potatoes evenly over the top of the corn layer.

Bake the whole thing at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Midway through cooking, I added a cookie sheet under my baking dish, since the Shepherd's Pie was starting to bubble over and spill onto the floor of my oven - never a good thing! Once out of the oven, divide into 6 equal portions of 340 calories each for a hearty entree.

onion $1.21
mushrooms $4.83
meatless fat-free crumbles $3.00
canned corn $1.59
instant mashed potatoes $1.99
vegan sour cream $2.49

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Vegetarian Meat Loaf

I told you I would be using more vegan imitation meats soon! The reason this original recipe was deemed only 'vegetarian' was because, though it used meatless ground burger, it still used eggs. In my version, of course, I use egg replacer to render it fully vegan.

In a food processor, combine 1 cup chopped celery, 1 cup sliced carrot, 1 peeled and quartered medium-sized onion, and 3 garlic cloves; process until finely chopped. I did this in two batches, since my food processor is a bit small. I also forgot to add the garlic cloves, but those were easy to mince with a knife separately!

Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion mixture, and saute 5 minutes.

Combine the onion mixture in a large bowl with 1/2 cup ketchup (try the one from Organicville, which is certified vegan), 1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs, the equivalent of 2 eggs using egg replacer (such as Ener-G), 1 (12-ounce) package of meatless ground burger (I used the one from Yves', which is certified vegan), and 1 (12-ounce) package of meatless fat-free crumbles (here I used Lightlife's Smart Ground, also certified vegan). Mix well.

I often see chefs on the Food Network get their hands dirty mixing up meatloaf mixtures - tonight was my turn, and it was fun!

A quick note, because I couldn't really see much difference between the 'meatless ground burger' and the 'meatless fat-free crumbles' while perusing the vegan section of the grocery store. I assume that the reason the original recipe called for these two difference kinds was because one is fat-free, and thus lowered the overall caloric values of the recipe. That's my guess, anyway.

Place the mixture into a 9x5-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. I patted mine into an even layer. Spread 1/4 cup more ketchup evenly over the top, then bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes, before dividing into 8 equal slices of 200 calories each.

Here are a few useful links:

celery $2.50
carrot $0.77
onion $0.59
ketchup $3.99
meatless ground burger $3.79
meatless fat-free crumbles $3.00

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

'Chicken'-Green Chile Enchilada Casserole

Do not be alarmed by the use of the word 'chicken' in the title! I have a few recipes I want to try out that take advantage of the vegan imitation meats on the market, so you'll probably see a few more disconcerting words up there in the title line in the next week or so.

For tonight's dish, I made my first foray into the meatless chicken strips (certified vegan) from Lightlife.

First, however, heat 1/2 teaspoon vegetable or canola oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 cup chopped onion and 1 large minced garlic clove; saute 5 minutes. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of canned chopped green chiles (about half of a standard 4.5-ounce can); cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and stir in one (6-ounce) package of vegan chicken strips. Set aside.

Combine 10-ounces of green chile enchilada sauce with 1/4 tsp. cumin and 1/4 tsp. chili powder. Check the ingredient list of the enchilada sauce, as many standard varieties will include sugar. I used the sauce from My Favorite New Mexico Foods company, which does not. ( Set aside.

Cut 7 (6-inch) corn tortillas into quarters. Set aside.

Finally, the original recipe called for 'Mexican blend' cheese, which includes mostly cheddar and Monterey Jack. Although both of those cheeses exist in vegan form, I found it easier to use all vegan cheddar (such as Galaxy Foods) rather than combining the two. If you do want some Monterey Jack in there, try the one from Vegan Gourmet. Whichever you choose, shred 3/4 cup of vegan cheese.

To assemble the casserole, spread 1/3 of your sauce mixture on the bottom of an 8x8-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Top with 1/2 of the tortilla quarters, then top that with the 'chicken' mixture. Sprinkle with half of your 'cheese', then another 1/3 of the sauce. Top that with the remaining half of the tortilla quarters, and the remaining third of the sauce.

Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. Sprinkle the top of the casserole with the remaining 'cheese', and continue to bake for an additional 10 minutes. Divide into 4 equal portions of 220 calories each. You can garnish this dish with chopped cilantro, if you like.

onion $0.46
meatless chicken strips
green chile enchilada sauce $5.49
corn tortillas $0.99

Monday, September 7, 2009

Roasted Red Pepper on Mini-Bagel Sandwiches

These adorable mini bagels are great as an appetizer or as an on-the-go lunch. Several companies make mini bagels (Thomas' etc.), but every variety I looked at contained honey or sugar. The mini bagels from Trader Joe's are a great alternative - they do contain brown sugar, but an employee there who is vegan told me she eats them, so that was good enough for me.

Let 1 cup (8 ounces) of vegan cream cheese (such as Tofutti's Better Than Cream Cheese) soften, then combine it with 1/4 cup minced green onions, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/8 tsp. black pepper and 2 minced garlic cloves.

Meanwhile, cut 12 mini bagels in half and toast them. If you don't have a toaster oven, a good alternative is to set the oven to Broil and broil them for a minute or two on each side, on baking sheets.

Drain, rinse, and chop 1 (12-ounce) bottle of roasted red bell peppers - you'll have just under 2 cups of chopped peppers as a result.

To assemble the sandwiches, spread the top half of each bagel with about 4 teaspoons of the 'cream cheese' spread. Arrange the chopped red bell peppers evenly on the bottom halves of the bagels - about 2 heaping tablespoon-fuls per bagel bottom - then top with the bagel tops. Cut each bagel in half. (As you can see from my photo, I actually did this upside down - the red peppers on the tops and the 'cream cheese' on the bottoms - but the sandwiches still tasted the same!)

One half bagel is 70 calories, so you'll have 24 mini servings.

vegan cream cheese $2.29
green onions $0.98
mini bagels $4.58
bottled roasted red bell peppers $5.99

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Tortilla Soup

All you pretty much have to do for this easy and delicious soup is toss the ingredients in a saucepan and bring them to a boil! It's ideal for a busy night.

In a large saucepan, combine 2 cups no-salt-added tomato sauce (such as Muir Glen), 1 and 1/2 cups water, 1 cup bottled salsa (I like the mild salsa from Muir Glen but go spicier if you prefer!), 1 cup frozen corn, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 teaspoon dried basil, 1 (14-ounce) can of vegetable broth, 1 (15-ounce) can of kidney beans (rinsed and drained), and 1 minced garlic clove.

Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat and simmer for 12 minutes.

Ladle 1 and 1/3 cups of soup into each of 6 bowls. Top each serving with 1/4 cup shredded vegan cheddar (such as Galaxy Foods). Serve with 5 baked tortilla chips per serving - I like the new ones from Garden of Eatin', which include Omega-3's from flaxseed - perfect for a vegan!

Each serving is 230 calories.

tomato sauce $4.38
salsa $4.39
frozen corn $2.99
canned vegetable broth $1.47
canned kidney beans $1.00
vegan cheddar $3.39
baked tortilla chips $3.19

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Rosemary-Tomato Pinwheels

Pass a tray of these pretty appetizers with cocktails, or have a couple alongside a bowl of soup with lunch, or for a snack. The recipe doubles easily.

The original recipe called for canned refrigerated pizza dough for the crust. Although PETA's website lists Pillsbury's canned refrigerated pizza dough on their "I can't Believe It's Vegan!" website, the dough contains other things I shy away from - hydrogenated oils most notably - even though they meet vegan standards. So instead, I chose a frozen pizza dough available at Whole Foods, sold individually wrapped in plastic in 1-pound portions. If you do buy a frozen variety like this, make sure to thaw it in the fridge starting about 24 hours ahead of time. Also, since the dough I bought was 1 pound - slightly more than standard 13.8 ounce canned pizza dough - I trimmed off the excess 2 ounces. Another alternative is to make your own, using the Pizza Dough recipe on this blog, but that's a bit more time consuming!

First, however, combine 2 tablespoons olive oil with 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary, 1/8 tsp. salt and 1 small minced garlic clove; let stand for about an hour - mine stood for about 50 minutes because I got impatient.

Meanwhile, pour boiling water over 1/2 a cup of sun-dried tomato halves (buy the kind packed without oil). Let stand for 30 minutes, then drain and chop.

Lightly sprinkle a work surface with flour, and pat the pizza dough into a 15x10 inch rectangle - this takes a few minutes, because pizza dough tends to want to smoosh back in on itself, so be gentle. Brush with half of the olive oil mixture (about 1 tablespoon).

Sprinkle the top evenly with the chopped sun-dried tomatoes, 1/2 cup thinly sliced basil, 1/4 cup grated vegan cheese in place of Romano (such as the vegan mozzarella from Galaxy Foods), and 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary.

Roll up jelly-roll fashion starting on the long, 15-inch edge. Cut the roll into 12 (1-inch) slices, and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. I wasn't sure whether to place them horizontally or vertically, but chose horizontally (that is, the way they are ultimately pictured in the photo at the top of this page) which seems to have been the proper choice. Lightly flatten each pinwheel with your hand - I put a little flour on my palm, as the dough was getting sticky! Brush the tops with the remaining olive oil mixture, then bake at 425 degrees for 12 minutes.

Each pinwheel is 130 calories.

olive oil $10.99
rosemary $2.49
garlic $0.51
sun-dried tomato halves packed without oil $2.69
frozen pizza dough $1.69
vegan cheese $3.39

Friday, September 4, 2009

Basmati Rice with Basil and Mint

This easy side dish starts out almost like a risotto, sauteing the rice grains before you add the cooking liquid, but then diverges and bakes in the oven instead of requiring all those long minutes of constant stirring. Serve with the vegan entree of your choice - check out pre-prepared items from Whole Foods to make the night even easier!

Place 1 cup basmati rice in a fine-mesh sieve and rinse with cold water; drain and set aside.

Heat 2 teaspoons vegetable or canola oil over medium-high heat. The original recipe said to use an ovenproof saucepan, but since I wasn't sure any of my saucepans were ovenproof, I used a 9-inch ovenproof skillet that I have with fairly deep sides, and that worked fine.

Add 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger and 2 minced garlic cloves; cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add the rice and cook for 1 minute, still stirring constantly.

Add 2 and 1/4 cups vegetable broth, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil, 2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint and 1/4 tsp. black pepper; bring to a boil.

Cover your saucepan or skillet with a lid or aluminum foil, and wrap the handle in aluminum foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, stirring once halfway through cooking.

Fluff the rice with a fork, then divide into 4 servings of 3/4 cups and 220 calories each.

The oven is foolproof compared to the stovetop!

basmati rice $1.85
ginger $0.56
vegetable broth $3.69
mint $1.99

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Banana-Oatmeal Loaf

A couple of bananas on my counter were past ripe for eating, but perfect for... banana bread! That was when I realized that, in over 500 recipes on this blog, I have yet to make a banana bread - zucchini bread yes, but banana, no. This recipe remedies that.

Spoon 1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour into measuring cups and level with a knife. In a large bowl, combine the flour with 2/3 cup raw sugar, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/4 tsp. baking soda, and 1/4 tsp. salt. Stir in 3/4 cup regular oats.

Make 1/3 cup vegan buttermilk by pouring 1 teaspoon lemon juice in a measuring cup, then filling with plain soy milk (such as Silk) to equal 1/3 a cup. Let stand 5 minutes to clabber (sour) the mixture.

Combine the 'buttermilk' in a bowl with 2 mashed ripe bananas (about 1 cup), 1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and the equivalent of 2 eggs using egg replacer (such as Ener-G).

Add the banana mixture to the flour mixture, and stir just until moist. Spoon the batter into an 8x4-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray and bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes - a toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean.

Cool the loaf for 15 minutes in the pan on a wire rack, then remove from pan and cool completely on a wire rack. You'll have 12 slices of 200 calories each.

all-purpose flour $3.99
sugar $4.99
baking soda $4.29
regular oats $2.99
banana $0.35
plain soy milk $2.69

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Grilled Eggplant with Caramelized Onion and Fennel

This yummy dish makes a beautiful appetizer! Grilling season is almost over, so take advantage if you have an outdoor grill. For this recipe, you want to heat your grill (or grill pan over the stove) over medium heat.

Peel a 1 and 1/4 pound eggplant. Slice into 8 slices, crosswise. Coat both sides of the eggplant slices with cooking spray, and sprinkle evenly with 1/8 tsp. salt and 1/8 tsp. black pepper.

Place the eggplant on the grill rack (or grill pan) coated with cooking spray and grill for 7 minutes on each side. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and coat with cooking spray. Add 2 and 3/4 cups chopped fennel bulb and 2 cups chopped yellow onion; saute for 8 minutes.

In a bowl, combine 1/8 tsp. salt, 1/8 tsp. black pepper, 2 cups arugula (trim off any large stems), 1 teaspoon white balsamic vinegar and 1 teaspoon olive oil; toss gently to combine.

Divide the arugula mixture evenly among 8 small plates. Top each serving with 1 eggplant slice and 1/3 cup of the fennel mixture. Top that with 2 tablespoons quartered cherry tomatoes per serving and 1 tablespoon crumbled vegan feta (such as Sunergia) in place of goat cheese per serving.

Sprinkle 2 tablespoons chopped basil and 1 tablespoon chopped thyme evenly over all the servings. Each appetizer is 80 calories.

eggplant $1.88
fennel $4.50
yellow onion $0.85
arugula $2.50
cherry tomatoes $2.99
vegan feta $3.69
basil $2.99
thyme $2.49

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Almond-Stuffed Baked Apples with Caramel-Apple Sauce

I'm anticipating the flavors of fall a little with this recipe... Although the new season isn't officially here for another 22 days, it is September, so I couldn't resist.

Toast 1/4 cup of sliced almonds for a minute or two in a skillet over medium heat. Place in a food processor and process until finely ground.

You need less than one whole "egg" to act as a binder for this part of the recipe, so I just combined 3/4 tsp. Ener-G egg replacement powder with 1 tablespoon of warm water (half the normal amount called for); stir with a whisk. Combine the 'egg' with the ground almonds, along with 2 tablespoons raw sugar, 1 teaspoon melted vegan butter (such as Earth Balance), 1/8 tsp. vanilla extract, a dash of salt, and a dash of nutmeg; stir until combined.

Cut 2 Braeburn apples in half. Scoop out the cores and seeds - a melon baller works well, but a tablespoon measure will do in a pinch. You should have about a tablespoon-ful deep pocket in each apple half. Slice a thin sliver off the rounded side of each apple half so they sit flat on a surface. Place the apples, flesh-side up, on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle 1 and 1/2 teaspoons sugar and 1/8 tsp. cinnamon evenly over the apples, then place about 1 tablespoon of the almond filling into the hollow you scooped out of each apple half.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the sauce: combine 1/4 cup raw sugar with 1 and 1/2 teaspoons water in a saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, without stirring, until the mixture begins to brown. I was quite surprised that the original recipe didn't give any estimate for how long this would take. Because of that, I probably over-anticipated and turned the heat down to low too early - after about 5 minutes. I'd recommend more like 6 or 7 minutes if I was doing it over again, since my sauce wasn't quite thick enough.

Once the sugar mixture begins to brown, reduce the heat to low. Pour in 1/4 cup apple cider slowly, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in 1 and 1/2 teaspoons brandy, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons Grand Marnier, 1/2 tsp. vegan butter and just a pinch of salt. (Both of those liquors are vegan, if other vegan recipe websites online are any guide).

Serve 1 stuffed apple half with 1 and 1/2 tablespoons sauce for 4 desserts of 190 calories each.

ground nutmeg $5.99
Braeburn apples $2.44
apple cider $2.99
brandy $15 (an estimate! I threw out this receipt by accident)
Grand Marnier $3.25 (for a very small bottle)

The Vegan Pantry

  • Vegan yogurt - Whole Soy
  • Vegan milk - Silk
  • Vegan Feta - Sunergia
  • Vegan Cheese - Galaxy Foods
  • Vegan Eggs - Ener-G
  • Vegan Butter - Earth Balance