Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Coming from a divorced family, my Thanksgivings were always split between a tofu-turkey-eating vegan dinner with my mom and stepdad, and a traditional dinner with my dad and stepmom. This year was the first that I didn't go home for Thanksgiving, so I wanted to recreate recipes that both sides of my family regularly made. I went to a T-day potluck at my friend Leigh's, and most of the more traditional foods were claimed by other people: mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, pecan pie, cranberry sauce. The three other dishes that I have to have to may my Thanksgiving complete are my mom's tofurkey, Dad's cranberry salad, and Barb's dinner rolls. Unfortunately the dinner rolls did not turn out awesome enough to make it on my blog (but that's what I get for trying to veganize a classic Betty Crocker recipe). The tofurkey and cranberry salad turned out just as well as I hoped. I also made a kabocha squash pound cake for dessert to contribute a unique seasonal dessert. Even though most people at the potluck were meat-eaters, everyone enjoyed the food I brought.


I am not sure where this recipe originates. Year after year, my mom pulls out an old Xeroxed copy. At the top it says "Holiday Cooking Class Series: Macrobiotic Thanksgiving Dinner," so my guess is she picked it up at a Macro cooking class. The only macrobiotic aspect to this recipe is its simplicity in ingredients; it is incredibly rich in flavor. I recommend using very extra firm tofu for this recipe since you need it to hold its shape. I used Whole Foods brand and found that it was too mushy. Westbrae and Nasoya are better I think. If your tofu is very wet and mushy, try pressing it longer than the hour that is recommended. I bet mine would have turned out better if I pressed it overnight. Also, allow yourself 3 1/2 hours, including pressing and cooking time.

5 lbs extra-firm tofu
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4-1/2 cup sesame oil
cheese cloth
colander (about 11 3/4" wide)
baking sheet that is wider than colander
basting brush

1. Drain and mash tofu well. Line colander with a single layer of cheese cloth.
2. Press tofu into cheese cloth-lined colander, and place a heavy object on top to press liquid out of tofu for 1 hour. (I set a plate on top of the tofu and used a gallon of water to press it)
3. Prepare stuffing (recipe follows)
4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
5. Hollow out tofu in the colander so that the tofu lining is 1-inch thick. Save remaining tofu.
6. Fill colander with prepared stuffing, stopping 1 inch from the top, and cover with remaining tofu.
7. Oil a baking sheet, place it on top of the colander, and carefully flip the filled tofu onto the baking sheet. Remove cheesecloth.
8. Make basting liquid with soy sauce and sesame oil; brush tofu with it.
9. Cover tofu with parchment paper, and bake tofu for 1 hour.
10. Uncover, baste, and return to oven uncovered until "skin" becomes golden brown, about one more hour. Baste again halfway through.
11. Using two spatulas, transfer tofurkey to serving platter.

Note: In the past, my mom has cut drumstick shapes out of tempeh, then steamed, basted, and baked them so that the tofu mound looks more like a turkey.


2 Tbs olive oil
1 cup onion, diced
1 cup celery, diced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
3 Tbs fresh sage or 1 tsp dried, minced
1 Tbs fresh thyme, minced
1 tsp dried marjoram
1/4 cup raisins
1/3 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
1-2 cups boiling water
1/4 cup soy sauce
4 cups bread, in 1/2 inch cubes

Heat oil and sautee onions, garlic, and celery until transparent, about 1 minute. Mix herb seasoning together and combine with remaining ingredients. Season to taste.

Use any kind of vegan gravy. I used the mushroom gravy from this deconstructed green bean casserole recipe from Vegan Yum Yum. The whole dish is an awesome vegan side dish that also has a lot more class than the traditional version.

Monday, November 22, 2010


I hated Brussels sprouts for so long until I tried them roasted. Roasting them brings out a nutty flavor that cuts some of their bitterness. I found this recipe in my Clean Foods cookbook. It was very easy to throw together, so I was able to make a lot of it for a potluck. My one warning is to watch them carefully in the oven. I threw them in then ran to take a quick shower and they were already burning 10-15 minutes later (though the recipe says 25). They may need more frequent stirring than the recipe suggests. Also I recommend using the suggested 9x12 in. baking dish. I had apple crisp in both of mine, so I used a metal baking sheet, which I think contributed to the burning. Also, I didn't follow the directions and sliced the mushroom caps and crushed the garlic and shallots. I recommend leaving everything whole. Despite a little overcooking, the Brussels sprouts were delicious and a huge hit. Try these for real! Serves 6.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Fennel and Shiitake Mushrooms

1 1/2 lbs Brussels sprouts
4 shallots
10 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 lb shiitake mushroom caps
1 large fennel bulb
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh tarragon or rosemary
sea salt/pepper

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Prepare brussels sprouts by cutting away tough root ends and removing blemished outer leaves. Slice in half lengthwise and place in a large bowl. Add shallots, garlic, and mushroom caps.

3. Prepare fennel by trimming off dried root end and slicing bulb thinly widthwise. Add to vegetables and toss with olive oil, vinegar, tarragon/rosemary, salt, and pepper.

4. Place in a 9x12 glass or ceramic baking dish and roast uncovered for 25 minutes. Stir and roast for 25 minutes more. Remove and serve.

Side note: I just looked on Wikipedia to see whether or not Brussels sprouts had to be capitalzed (it doesn't), and learned that overcooking Brussels sprouts releases glucosinolate sinigrin, which has a sulfurous taste and odor. So many people may dislike Brussels sprouts because they have only had them overcooked. If steaming or boiling them, they only need 6-7 minutes. So don't overcook your sprouts!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


My friend Molly is one of the artistic directors for High Concept Laboratories, which is an organization that provides cheap studio, rehearsal, and performance space to up and coming artists, musicians, theater companies, etc. On Friday they had an open house and she asked me to help cater the event. I came across these miniature napoleons on the veganyumyum blog and couldn't resist, even though I knew making enough for 200 people would be a bitch. They were indeed time consuming, but well worth it in the end. The eggplant cream was fantastic, and in the future I may use this recipe to stuff pasta or layer in lasagna. I even ate it smeared on bread. The recipe recommends microwaving the eggplants to remove excess liquid before cooking and keep them from soaking up so much oil, but I don't have a microwave. I used the salting and pressing method, which works just as well and doesn't nuke your food. It does require a bit more time, though.

A bit of advice: pick mushrooms, zucchinis, and tomatoes that are similar widths. Our zucchinis were far slimmer than the tomatoes and mushrooms giving them too much of an hourglass shape. Also, I recommend roasting the veggies (especially the tomatoes) on parchment paper so that the juices don't cook them to the baking sheets. Many of the tomato slices ended up being unusable because they burned to the sheet, even though it had been well oiled.

The recipe is somewhat long and complicated, and I want you all to see her pictures (which are much nicer than mine) so you can find the recipe here : Miniature Napoleons with Eggplant Cream.


Friday, October 8, 2010


My friend Hesper is working on a farm this summer and sells their produce at farmer's markets in Chicago. She gave me a bunch of garlic scapes which were leftover after one of the markets. Garlic scapes are not something I would think to buy at a farmer's market since I wouldn't really know what to do with them. Since they fell into my lap I got really excited about getting to know them. I wish I had taken a picture of them before I cut them up. They are the stalks that grow out of garlic bulbs, and they look kind of like curly scallions. They taste like scallions, too, but with a mild garlic flavor. They sweeten up a bit like onions do when they're cooked. They'd be perfect for someone who likes the flavor of garlic but doesn't like it to overpower a dish. They're probaby best prepared similarly to scallions: lightly pan-fried in stirfries or scrambles.

I found a recipe on the VeganYumYum blog, which is one of my favorites as of late, for a garlic scape pesto. Also, the Iphone has a VeganYumYum app, so I can look at her recipes WHEREVER AND WHENEVER I WANT TO! That's what I do instead of playing games or checking facebook when I'm on the train. Anyway, back to the pesto. I probably didn't have a full 1/2 lb of scapes, so my pesto wasn't very green, but it was still delicious. I didn't have pine nuts (I'm not the biggest fan), so I used walnuts. This recipe serves two.

Garlic Scape Pesto

1/2 lb Fresh Garlic Scapes
2 Tbs Olive Oil
1 Large Pinch Salt
Black Pepper
1/3 Cup Pine Nuts (or other nut)
2 Tbs Oil
Lemon Juice, to taste

Chop the scapes into 1 inch long pieces. Add 2 tbs oil to a heated pan and add the scapes. Add salt, pepper, and pine nuts and saute for a few minutes over medium high heat until the scapes begin to soften and the nuts turn golden brown. Add immediately to the work bowl of a food processor and add remaining oil. Blend well until a smooth paste forms. Taste and add more salt or some lemon juice to brighten. This will coat 1/2 lb. of pasta.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


July 8th was John's birthday and I wanted to surprise him with a spectacular brunch spread. I knew he'd love bagels, cream cheese, and fixings, but I struggled for days deciding whether or not to make the bagels from scratch or buy them. They seemed so complicated! But the night before I just decided to go for it. Worst case scenario I'd run out the next morning and buy a few. As it turns out, bagels are a bit time consuming but not difficult. You have to allow about three hours of prep time the night before (including rising time), but once they're prepped, the boiling and baking part doesn't take long.

The first time I made them I used regular spelt flour instead of bread flour and they turned out fine. Bread flour has a higher gluten content than all-purpose flour, but I've never seen spelt bread flour. The second time I made them, I added some powdered wheat gluten to my flour. Wheat gluten can be found in most baking/spice isles of grocery stores, and the ratio is 1 tablespoon gluten to one cup flour to make a substitute for bread flour. I was reluctant at first since the bagels turned out well the first time, but the bagels were much better with the gluten added, more bagel-like. I made one dozen with spelt and one dozen with wheat four. I made these bagels for our housewarming brunch and I'm still the talk of the town because everyone was so impressed. I didn't get any pictures of them the second time around because they disappeared while I was in the kitchen boiling and baking the last few.

The one weird ingredient is malt powder. The first time I made them I went to Whole Foods to inquire about it. A helpful employee said they were out but he stole me a ramekin full from their bakery. The second time I made them I went back to Whole Foods hoping the same scenario would play out. No luck, but an equally helpful employee said that barley malt works just as well.

I got this recipe from The Fresh Loaf, and I chose it because someone commented that they made them successfully with spelt flour. The recipe yields one dozen bagels, but if you're baking for a crowd, plan on every other person having 2. I made about equal numbers of sesame, poppy seed, onion, salt and pepper, and cinnamon and maple sugar. From my experience, onion was the most popular followed by sesame. Next time I'll experiment folding stuff into the dough like blueberries or herbs or olives.


1 teaspoon instant yeast
4 cups bread flour
2 1/2 cups water

1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
3 3/4 cups bread flour
2 3/4 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons malt powder
1 tablespoon malt syrup, honey, or brown sugar

Finishing touches:
1 tablespoon malt powder/syrup for the water
Cornmeal for dusting the pan
Toppings for the bagels such as seeds, salt, onion, or garlic

The Night Before

1. Stir the yeast into the flour in a large mixing bowl. Add the water and stir until all ingredients are blended. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for two hours.

2. Remove the plastic wrap and stir the additional yeast into the sponge. Add 3 cups of the flour, the malt powder and the salt into the bowl and mix until all of the ingredients form a ball. You need to work in the additional 3/4 cups of flour to stiffen the dough, either while still mixing in the bowl or while kneading. The dough should be stiffer and drier than normal bread dough, but moist enough that all of the ingredients are well blended.

3. Pour the dough out of the bowl onto a clean surface and knead for 10 minutes.

4. Immediately after kneading, split the dough into a dozen small pieces around 4 1/2 ounces each. Roll each piece into a ball and set it aside. When you have all 12 pieces made, cover them with a damp towel and let them rest for 20 minutes.

5. Shaping the bagel is a snap: punch your thumb through the center of each roll and then rotate the dough, working it so that the bagel is as even in width as possible.

6. Place the shaped bagels on an oiled sheet pan, with an inch or so of space between one another (use two pans, if you need to). If you have parchment paper, line the sheet pan with parchment and spray it lightly with oil before placing the bagels on the pan. Cover the pan with plastic (I put mine into a small plastic garbage bag) and allow the dough to rise for about 20 minutes. Place the pans into the refrigerator for the night.

Baking Day

1. Preheat the oven to 500. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, adding one tablespoon of malt powder. It is key to have a large pot and lot of water because adding the bagels lowers the water temperature and you want to try to maintain a boil.

2. When the pot is boiling, drop a few of the bagels into the pot one at a time and let them boil for a minute. Use a large, slotted spoon or spatula to gently flip them over and boil them on the other side.

3. Before removing them from the pot, sprinkle corn meal onto the sheet pan. Remove them one at a time, set them back onto the sheet pan, and top them right away, while they are still slightly moist. You may need to very lightly press some of the toppings into the bagel so they stick. Repeat this process until all of the bagels have been boiled and topped.

4. Once they have, place the sheet pan into the preheated oven and bake for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to 450 degrees, rotate the pan, and bake for another 5 minutes until the bagels begin to brown. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool. Top with vegan cream cheese, tomato, red onion, lettuce, roasted red pepper, or whatever your heart desires.

Sunday, July 4, 2010


Kantens are really refreshing desserts that are easy as can be. They are also genuinely good for you, which cannot be said about most desserts. A kanten is a jelled dessert that is made with fruit and agar. Agar is a sea vegetable that comes in the form of clear flakes. Like gelatin, they can be dissolved into fruit juice and then it hardens as it cools. Agar, like other sea vegetables, has a high mineral content and has detoxifying powers. According to my Clean Foods cookbook, agar has a cooling and calming effect on the gastrointestinal tract, making it a perfect food to eat after a big meal. Agar is incredibly versatile because it is colorless and tasteless, so it can be added to any kind of juice/fruit combination. Had I added strawberries or raspberries to this dessert, it would have been perfect for the 4th of July.


This recipe was adapted from Clean Foods, a vegan and macrobiotic cookbook by Terry Walters. The original recipe asks for frozen blueberries, but I used fresh. It also instructs you to puree the entire kanten after it hardens to create a mousse-like dessert, but I wanted to keep mine in its hard form. Instead of serving it in parfait glasses, I poured the whole mixture into a 9x13 baking dish then cut it into squares. However, if I had parfait glasses, I think that would be a beautiful way to present it whether as a solid dessert with berries intact or as a mousse. The 1 tablespoon agar to 1 cup of juice is standard, so you can use that ratio to create a dessert with any combination of juice and fruit: grape juice and grapes, apple juice and watermelon, or peach berries. I've even made a vegan lemon pie by basically making a sweet lemon juice kanten and letting it firm up in a precooked pie crust. This kanten serves 6-8 and it keeps for a few days covered in the fridge.

3 cups apple or pear juice
3 tablespoons agar flakes
Pinch of sea salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

In a large pot over medium-high heat, bring juice to a boil. Reduce heat to low and stir in agar flakes, salt, and lemon juice or cider vinegar. Continue stirring until flakes have dissolved. Remove from heat, add blueberries and transfer to 9x13-inch glass casserole dish. Refrigerate until firm (about 45 minutes). Optional: Remove from refrigerator and puree with handheld blender until texture is smooth.


2 cups apple juice
2 cups lightly toasted cashews
3 tablespoons maple syrup

In small pot over medium-high heat, bring apple juice to boil. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Place cashews and syrup in food processor and process 10-15 seconds. Whith the processor running, slowly add juice a little at a time until you have the desired texture (you may not need all the juice. I only used about 1.5 cups. Also, it firms up as it cools).

Saturday, July 3, 2010


This soup comes from some macrobiotic cookbook, but I've made it so many times that I don't need the recipe. It is very simple to make and guaranteed to be a hit. There are some macrobiotic ingredients that you may not have in your pantry, but in my opinion they are worth having around.

The first is kombu, which is a form of kelp or seaweed. Sea vegetables are extremely nutrient dense foods and are used in macrobiotic cooking to add vitamins and minerals to ones diet. I think of kombu as being like a multivitamin that you add to the cooking water of beans. Because the minerals are cooked into the food, they are more readily absorbed by your body. It also serves to add flavor, like a vegetable broth would. Believe me, it doesn't taste fishy at all like you may imagine seaweed broth might.

The second odd ingredient is umeboshi vinegar, which isn't really a vinegar but a brine. It is the salty liquid leftover from pickling umeboshi plums. Umeboshi plums are actually a form of apricot that grow in Japan. They are incredibly nutritious and really tasty when pickled. Umeboshi plums and vinegar are some of my secret weapons in cooking. They have such a unique, salty and sour flavor that goes well in so many dishes. I blend umeboshi plums into hummus and eat it in sushi rolls. I add the vinegar to guacamole, salad dressings, soups, and toss it with boiled vegetables.

This red lentil soup could probably be made without these ingredients. You may be able to make it just as flavorful substituting salt and a little apple cider or wine vinegar, but it wouldn't be as nutritious. This soup serves 4-5


1 1/2 cups dried red lentils, sorted,rinsed and drained
3 inch piece of kombu, wiped clean
5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
4 1/2 cups water (I use 5 cups because I like it more soupy, but use less if you want it to be more dal-like)
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/4 cup umeboshi vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh ginger juice
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro for garnish

1. Bring the lentils, kombu, garlic, and water to boil in a large pot, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Stirring occasionally, simmer for 20 minutes, or until the lentils are soft and have the texture of puree. Skim off and discard any foam (This practice helps make beans less gas-producing and should be done whenever you cook dried beans). Remove and discard the kombu.

2. Stir the curry powder, vinegar, and ginger juice into the pot, and simmer an additional 5 minutes.

3. Garnish with black pepper and cilantro before serving.


-Add any combination of finely chopped vegetables to create a red lentil vegetable soup.
-Add 1/2 cup of tomato paste to Step 2.
-Substitute a combination of cumin, coriander, and turmeric for the curry powder.

I served this soup for a some friends alongside long-grain brown rice, sauteed baby bok choy, and a salad of mixed greens and basil with a lemon vinaigrett
e, red onion, and sweet white radish.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Spring is such an exciting time because lots of beautiful vegetables come into season. Next week the Logan Square Farmer's Market starts and I cannot wait! Here are a few side dishes I've concocted over the past week or two using spring veggies.


Baby bok choy is one of my favorite vegetables, one I buy every single time I get to Whole Foods. The taste is a little more subtle than the full-grown bok choy, less spicy. What I like most is that you can cook the entire leaf without cutting it up because they're small, so they fit in a pan, and the stems aren't too thick. I first made this dish for breakfast alongside steel-cut oats. The next time I made it I added some garlic and paired it with a homemade spicy chickpea soup and brown rice. I think it complemented the spices really well, almost like a tzatziki sauce. Serves 2.

1 head baby bok choy, separated and rinsed
2 tsp olive oil
2 medium cloves garlic
1 tbs tahini
1 tbs fresh lemon juice
1 tbs water
1/4 tsp salt

1. Whisk together tahini, lemon juice, water, and salt.

2. Heat oil to medium-high heat in a wok or frying pan. Add the biggest leaves and stir-fry for a few seconds, then the medium leaves, then the small leaves. Add garlic. Stirfry 1-2 minutes until greens are soft and stems are a little browned.

3. Turn off heat and immediately pour lemon-tahini dressing over the bok choy in the pan. Stir to coat. Remove from heat and serve immediately.


Ever bought a beautiful bunch of carrots with the greens still attached and not known what to do with them? Well, now you know you can eat them! If not using the tops it is important to remove the greens right away. The greens will continue to leech nutrients out of the carrots, so your carrots will go bad quickly. That being said, if you are eating the tops, they should still be removed, but use them within a day or two of purchase. Carrot-tops don't stay fresh long. I love this dish because it is so bright and colorful and can really add to an otherwise bland looking meal. You could add onion and/or garlic or use tamari instead of salt if you wanted to add more flavor, but the dish really doesn't need it. If I was cooking for a crowd, I'd have used the whole bunch of carrots and tops, but these portions were meant for one.

2 medium carrots, sliced diagonally into quarter-inch coins
4 carrot tops and stems, roughly chopped
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp freshly grated ginger juice (optional)
toasted sesame seeds (optional)

1. Heat oil to medium-high heat. Sautee carrots for 5-7 minutes or until they start to brown.
2. Add greens and sautee for about 1 minute.
3. Stir in salt and about 2 tsp water. Immediately cover, reduce heat to low, and steam for about 30 seconds or until greens are tender. Remove lid and turn off heat. Add ginger juice and sesame seeds. Serve immediately.


Asparagus is the epitome of spring vegetables because it is usually the first green thing to appear out of the frozen ground. This recipe comes from a cookbook created by my college co-op. What started out as "Dad's No-Fail Asparagus" (a recipe from my friend Hesper's dad) quickly became shortened to "Dad Asparagus" around the house. This recipe is simple, really delicious, and truely "no fail." Last week I served it at a good-bye dinner party for a friend paired with veggie burgers and salad. This week I paired it with spring rolls and peanut sauce. It goes with everything. The recipe below is the original cook-book recipe, but 2 lbs of asparagus really serves a crowd. I usually use 1 or 1/2 lb asparagus and slightly less Earth Balance and tamari.

2 lbs asparagus, ends trimmed
olive oil
2 Tbs Earth Balance
2 tsp tamari
1 tsp balsamic vinegar

1. Preheat oven to 400.
2. Coat baking tray with oil, spread asparagus in a single layer, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bake for about 12 minutes or until tender.
3. Melt Earth Balance in a small skillet on medium-low heat for about 3 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove from heat and stir in tamari and vinegar.
4. When asparagus is done, drizzle buttery mixture over the asparagus as soon as it comes out of the oven. Serve immediately.

Monday, May 31, 2010


My mom has been making this soup for me for ages, and it is one of my favorites. It is a very light but satisfying summer soup. It is easy to make, has very simple ingredients, and can be improvised and still turn out great. If you don’t work with leeks much, they may be kind of intimidating. Here’s how I trim, wash, and cut a leek:

1. Trim the tips of the leek to remove any old, wrinkly parts, and cut the leek in half, longways.

2. Peel back each layer of leek leaf and run water in between to rinse off the dirt. See how it hides down there!
3. Thinly slice the whole leek until you reach the hairy end. You can discard that. I've seen some people throw away the whole dark green part because they say it is too tough to eat. As long as its cooked long enough, that's not true.

A note about cleaning mushrooms: I've always thought mushrooms had to be wiped down with a damp cloth or paper towel because I heard that rinsing them made them soggy. So I wiped down all the mushrooms for this soup. Afterward, I decided to Google that myth to see if it was true. Not! Mushrooms can be rinsed and patted dry to remove dirt, and they won't absorb the water. Alton Brown from the Food Network did a show on mushrooms for Myth Busters. That will save me lots of time in the future!

And now to the recipe...


1 large leek, trimmed, cleaned, and thinly sliced into half-moons (about 3 cups)
1 8 oz package white mushrooms, thinly sliced (about 3 cups)
3 tbs olive oil
4 c water
2 tbs tamari, or to taste

1. In a soup pot, heat olive oil at medium-high heat and sautee mushrooms until they begin to sweat, about 3 minutes.
2. Add leeks and a pinch of salt, and sautee until leeks are translucent, about 8-10 minutes.
3. Add 4 cups of water, or just enough to cover vegetables, bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 20-30 minutes.
4. Add tamari and simmer for 5 more minutes. Garnish with scallions, cilantro, or parsley

Serves 4

Thursday, May 20, 2010


I'm not the biggest fan of tempeh. It has a strong flavor which makes it not as versatile as tofu, my soy-product of choice. However, I can't get enough of tempeh that is marinated and baked. After pulling a batch out of the oven, it dawned on me to make a tempeh Ruben. I threw some sweet potato fries in the oven as a side and had myself a really happy lunch.

adapted from Clean Food

One reason I often don't like tempeh is because it is too dry. Steaming tempeh makes it more moist and allows it to absorb more flavors. I thought the original recipe in my Clean Foods cookbook was too sweet and the marinade was not liquidy enough. When I made it again I added a little less maple syrup, a little more tamari, and some water to stretch the marinade. This tempeh is perfect by itself, maybe served with some brown rice and sauteed greens. But if you want to make it specifically for a Ruben sandwich, consider adding 1/2 a teaspoon of caraway seeds or peppercorns or whatever spices you'd associate with corned beef. Serves 4.

2 8-oz packages tempeh
1/4 c extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons prepared mustard (Dijon or stone-ground)
1 tablespoon maple syrup
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons tamari (or soy sauce)
2 tablespoons water

1. Slice tempeh across into 1/2-in strips and steam for 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 425.
2. In a shallow baking dish, whisk together oil, garlic, mustard, maple syrup, lemon juice, and tamari. Place steamed tempeh in marinade, flip to coat each side, and marinate for at least 30 minutes (I recommend marinating overnight if you have the time).
3. Place tempeh with marinade in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, flip each piece, and bake for 10 more minutes.


3 tbs vegan mayonnaise (Vegenaise is my favorite)
3 tbs ketchup
3 tbs minced pickles
1/4 tsp lemon juice

For the sandwich, add 4-5 slices of the tempeh, warmed sauerkraut, dressing, tomato, and lettuce to rye bread.


2 sweet potatoes, unpeeled, cut into 1/4 inch fries
1 tbs olive oil
1 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 425. In a large bowl, coat sweet potatoes with oil and salt.
2. Arrange in a single layer on a lightly oiled baking sheet.
3. Bake for 15 minutes, flip, and bake for another 10-15 minutes.

Monday, May 10, 2010


Friday night I had some friends over for a burger-themed dinner. We bought some veggie burgers, and I made some pressure-cooked baked beans and potato salad. I planned on putting the bean recipe on my blog, but they didn’t turn out the way I wanted them to. The big hit of the evening was the lemon-coconut cake I made for dessert. I stole this recipe from my friend Julia’s blog and she stole it from Vegenomicon. The coconut milk makes the cake so moist and yummy. The recipe calls for a Bundt pan, but Julia used a 9x13 rectangular pan, and I used a taller 9x9 square pan. All seem to work fine. I topped the cake off with lemon icing.

The cake recipe is here.


2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup Earth Balance, softened
2 tbsp soy milk
juice and zest from one lemon

1. With an electric mixer set at low speed, cream the sugar and margarine (I did this by handand it worked just fine).
2. Beat in the soy milk and lemon juice. Stir in the lemon rind.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


Breakfast has always been the most difficult meal for me. Vegan + wheat allergy = very few options when it comes to traditional breakfast foods. I also think that if breakfast is the most important meal of the day, most people are eating all the wrong foods. Have you noticed that most breakfast foods are all the same color: white (give or take a little brown or yellow)? Bread, butter, cereal, milk, oatmeal, potatoes, eggs, meat. One way I judge a healthy, well balanced meal is by a variety of colors. I'm not much of a breakfast person, but when I do eat it, it I try to include whole grains for sustained energy and vegetables (potatoes don't count) for nutrients. I prefer dinner leftovers to a bowl of cereal because otherwise I know I'll be crashing an hour later. Check out these recipes for a healthy twist on traditional breakfast.

STEEL-CUT OATS with nuts and dried cranberries

Steel-cut oats are less processed than rolled oats. The whole grain oat is cut into 2-3 smaller pieces but the nutritious bran layer is left intact. Steel-cut oats are higher in protein and fiber than rolled oats. They have a lower glycemic index, meaning they are digested more slowly so they cause a lesser spike in insulin levels and produce more sustained energy without a blood sugar crash. These oats do take longer to cook than rolled, but the cooking time can be reduced by soaking them in the cooking water overnight. I've added almonds and walnuts for added protein and cranberries for deliciousness. I topped mine off with almond milk, maple syrup, and chia seeds. Serves 4.

1 cup steel-cut oats
3 cups water
1/4 tsp salt
small handful walnuts, chopped (optional)
small handful almonds, chopped (optional)
small handful dried cherries (optional)

1. Bring water and salt to a boil then stir in oats.
2. Cover, and cook for 10-20 minutes (depending on desired chewiness), stirring occasionally (this is what the package suggests, but I usually cook them for at least 20 minutes before adding the fruit and nuts)
3. Add cranberries and nuts and cook for another 3-5 minutes (the nuts should be cooked in the cereal unless they've been toasted because they're more digestible, which is especially important in the morning).
4. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for another minute or two before serving.


Kale is one of my favorite vegetables, and it is almost always in my refrigerator. It grows in almost any climate condition, including through the winter, so it is a very hearty vegetable. Kale is a good source of iron, calcium, and vitamin C to name a few. The stems are where most of the nutrients are stored, so don't throw them away! Sometimes I blanch kale or other green veggies for a simple breakfast (drop them in boiling water for a few seconds). If I have time, I like to make tofu scrambles because they resemble eggs. Serves 2-3.

2-3 Kale leaves, chopped, stems removed and thinly sliced
1/4 c onion, finely chopped
2 tbs olive oil
1/2 block tofu
1 tbs tamari (or soy sauce)
1 tsp turmeric

1. In a large skillet, heat the oil on medium-high heat. Add onions, and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes. Add kale stems and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes.
2. Add kale leaves and cook until just wilted enough to fit the tofu in the pan (don't overcook!)
3. Crumble tofu into the pan and cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add turmeric and tamari and cook for 1 more minute.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010



I made this soup about 2 weeks ago, so I can't remember exactly what I put in it. But that's the beauty of lentils: they're so hard to screw up. If you want more or less or different spices, do it. Add more or less water depending on how thick you like it. Add tomatoes or potatoes or whatever you like. If you don't have broth, just add about half a teaspoon of salt per cup of water.

2-2 1/2 cups brown lentils, picked and rinsed (meaning check to make sure there aren't any pebbles or big dirt clumps then rinse until clean)
About 8 cups vegetable broth
one onion, finely chopped
tw0 stalks celery, finely chopped
two carrots, finely chopped
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp cumin
olive oil

Pour about 2 tbs olive oil in a large soup pot and set over medium heat. Add onions and a pinch of salt and sautee for 1 minute. Add celery and carrots and sautee another 5-6 minutes until onions are translucent. Add lentils, vegetable broth, coriander, and cumin. Raise heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 35-40 minutes or until lentils are tender.


This recipe is a McCarthy Co-op favorite, so I ate lots of it in college. It is so easy and everyone loves beer. The recipe below is a basic recipe, but in the one I made recently, I replaced about 3/4 cup of the flour with whole spelt flour and used white spelt for the rest. I also added 2 seeded and minced jalapenos, which added a spicy flair. I used Guiness, which gives it a very strong stout flavor, but you can used something a little lighter if you want less beer taste.

3 cups self-rising flour (1 c all-purpose flour, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt x3)
3 tbs sugar
12 oz beer (darker is better)
4 tbs butter substitute, melted

1. Preheat oven to 375.
2. Combine the flour, sugar, and beer in a bowl.
3. Scrape batter into a well greased loaf pan.
4. Bake for about 50 minutes.
5. Pour the melted butter over the top and bake for 10 more minutes

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


This pie was my dad’s favorite when I was growing up and it quickly became my favorite, too. Rhubarb is coming into season, so I couldn’t wait to get my hands on some. I combined recipes from the America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook (filling) and Love, Eric: Delicious Vegan Macrobiotic Desserts (crust). Even though it’s only about 5% vegan friendly the ATK cookbook is a bible to me. Before creating my own vegan masterpiece, I always check the ATK cookbook for tips on cooking a dish. For example, this recipe involves cooking the rhubarb before baking it to cook off some of the juices which firms up the rhubarb, makes the pie less soupy, and reduces the amount of arrowroot or cornstarch by half. I recommend serving this pie with coconut milk whipped cream (see recipe below).


This recipe can be halved for a single pie crust. I use this recipe for all my pies. I suggest putting all of the ingredients in the fridge for 30-60 minutes before you make the pie. Cold ingredients and not over mixing it make for a flakier crust.

2 cups white spelt flour
1 1/2 c unbleached flour (I use all spelt to make it wheat-free and it works just fine)
1/2 tsp sea salt
2/3 c maple sugar (regular sugar can be used, but I’d use a little bit less)
2/3 c safflower oil (or vegetable or canola)
1/2 c cold water (may not need all, may need more)

1. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the oil and water and knead quickly to form a dough. Separate into two equally sized balls, cover with a cloth or plastic wrap to prevent drying and allow to sit for at least 15 minutes in the fridge or until needed.

2. After pie filling is created, flour a clean surface or line with parchment paper to prevent sticking. Using a rolling pin, roll one ball of dough into a circle to fit a 9-inch pie pan (dough thickness shouldn’t exceed 1/4 inch). Roll the other ball of dough into a circle of the same size and thickness. Roll the dough around the rolling pin to easily pick it up and transfer it on top of the pie.


2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 lb rhubarb, trimmed and peeled*, and cut into 1-inch lengths
1 cup sugar
1 quart strawberries, hulled and quartered
2 tsp grated orange zest (optional but highly recommended)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbs arrowroot (cornstarch works too)
pinch of salt
*stalks only need peeling if they are larger than celery-sized and very tough

1. Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position, place a rimmed baking sheet on the rack and heat the oven to 500 degrees. Heat the oil and a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until smoking. Add the rhubarb and 1/4 cup of the sugar. Cook, stirring frequently until the rhubarb has shed most of its liquid but is still firm (resist the urge to cook longer! I cooked it too long and it turned to mush). Spread the cooked rhubarb out over a plate and refrigerate until cool.

2. Meanwhile, roll out the top crust to a 12-in circle. Toss the cooled rhubarb, strawberries, orange zest, and vanilla together. Mix 3/4 cup of the sugar, the arrowroot, and salt together then sprinkle over the fruit and combine. Add up to 4 more tablespoons of sugar if the fruit tastes too tart. Spread the fruit in the unbaked pie crust and pack lightly.

3. Lay the top crust over the fruit, seal and crimp the edges, and cut eight vent holes. Wrap the edges of the pie crust in tinfoil to prevent burning (I didn’t do this, and my crust burned a little).

4. Place the pie on the heated baking sheet and lower the oven temperature to 425 degrees. Bake until the top crust is golden, about 25 min. Rotate the baking sheet, reduce the oven temperature again to 375, and bake until juices are bubbling and the crust is a deep golden brown, 30-35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool to room temperature before serving.


This recipe only works if the coconut milk is thoroughly chilled (at least several hours if not days) so that the water and fat can separate. I usually buy a few cans at a time and always keep one in the fridge so it’s ready for this very purpose. Also, do not use light coconut milk, only whole fat.

1 can chilled coconut milk
Maple syrup, honey, or powdered sugar (about 1/4 c)
a few drops of vanilla

1. Open coconut milk can and drain the water.
2. Scoop the coconut milk fat into a bowl and beat with a whisk or electric mixer until fluffy.
3. Add desired amount of sweetener and vanilla. Return to fridge until ready to serve.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Hi friends,

So, I'm starting this blog for two reasons: (1) family and friends frequently ask me for recipes, and I want an easy way to share them with everyone. The problem is, I tend to do most of my cooking without recipes. I've done it enough over the last several years that I just throw stuff together without measuring. Unfortunately, this way of cooking prevents me from replicating recipes and sharing them with people, especially people who don't instinctively know how much soy sauce to add to some stir-fried greens or how long to cook them before they're overcooked. So, (2) I want to document my cooking so that I pay more attention to what it is I do. Also, I love cooking so much I want to burst, and sometimes I get so excited about something I made that I take pictures of it. With this blog I can do what I do without feeling like a loser. Enjoy!