Monday, March 16, 2015

Tomato Lentil Soup and Grilled Panini

It's raining today, which is certainly better than SNOW. I can't think of anything more comforting on a cold and rainy Saturday than a hot bowl of soup and a grilled panini. 

Soup is one of my favorite recipe to make. It's simple, inexpensive, and makes a completely satisfying and hearty vegan meal.

Tomato Lentil Soup

(Inspired by this recipe from the fantastic blog: Running on Real Food)

1 tbsp olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
3 carrots, diced
4 stalks celery, diced
6 cups homemade vegetable stock
1 cup uncooked red lentils
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes, with juice 
  8oz frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
½ tsp pepper
¼ tsp chili powder
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
2 bay leaves
¼ tsp dried Italian Seasoning
salt to taste


  • Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat
  • Add the garlic, onion and carrots, season with some salt and pepper, and cook
  • for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the celery, stock, lentils, tomatoes, spinach and all the spices and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat and simmer until lentils are tender and cooked through,
  • approximately 30 minutes.
  • And as an added bonus, this soup tastes even better the next day, which is
  • perfect for work lunches!

And now, for the Panini:  For this comforting grilled sandwich, I decided to try
out the melting power of one of the new vegan cheese products on the
market: Chao Slices by FieldRoast, a vegan coconut cheese seasoned with a
traditionally fermented soybean curd called CHAO by the Vietnamese. 

I already know that Field Roast Chao slices make a mean cold
deli sandwich with some Tofurky Deli Slices, lettuce, tomato, mustard and
mayo on a roll, and they taste utterly fantastic raw, straight from the
package, but how would they melt? 

Since I had a lovely loaf of Tuscan Wheat Bread, I thought I'd try my hand
at a grilled cheese and hickory smoked Tofurky sandwich to go along with
our soup! Oooey gooey Coconut Cheese, melted perfectly between two
slices of crisp, grilled bread? Yes, please!

Smoked Tofurky and Chao Cheese Panini  (serves 2)


4 slices Whole Wheat Tuscan Bread
6 slices Tofurky Hickory Smoked Turkey
4 slices Chao
Earth Balance, for buttering bread


  • Preheat a large non stick pan on medium heat.
  • Lightly butter the four slices of bread.
  • Place bread, butter side down, in the pre-heated pan, then add 1 cheese slice, turkey slices, final cheese slice, and top with bread.
  • Cook the panini until the outside is crisp and the cheese is melted, about 3-4 minutes on each side.
  • Cut in half, and serve with soup!

The verdict: Field Roast Chao slices melt like a DREAM when grilled between two sliced of bread. And, they have that creamy, tangy goodness of the grilled cheeses of my childhood, a memory long gone since going vegan. I think these definitely give Daiya slices a run for their money!

I have a package of the Chao Coconut Herb with Black Pepper in my fridge right now, so I must come up with something fantastic to make with that as well. Suggestions are welcome! ^_^

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Mediterranean Kale Salad

Now that it's starting to get dark at 4:00, and there's a chill in the air, the thought of eating a cool, crisp green salad seems less and less appealing. Enter in my favorite hearty, wintry green leaf veggie, KALE. This salad gives you that fresh, raw veggie feel, with a bit more substance. Feel free to mix and match your veggies here, as well. Olives or some grated carrot might be nice. OR, switch out the edamame for roasted chickpeas or some grilled seitan.

Mediterranean Kale Salad

1/2 pound kale, veins removed, chopped
1/2 large yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 cup cucumbers, chopped
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1 apple, chopped
1 cup edamame, shelled
1 avocado, thinly sliced

1/4 cup good quality olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
2  teaspoon agave nectar (or honey)
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
1 teaspoon oregano
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp salt, or to taste


In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the dressing.  Whisk well until ingredients are completely emulsified. Taste and adjust the flavors to your liking: Sometimes I like to add a bit more sweetener to cut down on the “tangingess”.

Place your chopped kale in a large salad bowl. Add about a third to a half of the dressing, a little salt, and massage the kale leaves with your clean hands until the leaves start to soften and wilt, about 2-3 minutes.  Add remaining vegetables, and part of the remaining dressing, to taste. Toss to combine and serve!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Basil Arugula Pesto with Toasted Pine Nuts

This delicious pesto recipe makes the perfect amount to be tossed with 1 lb to 1 1/2 lb of your favorite pasta. Today I had a 1 lb bag of Trader Joe's penne

Basil Arugula Pesto Recipe

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  3 cups (loosely packed) fresh basil leaves
  1 cup (loosely packed) fresh arugula
  1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
  2 garlic cloves, peeled
  1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  Juice of 1 small lemon
  1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  2-4 tablespoons water, as needed

Place 1/2 cup oil, basil, arugula, pine nuts, garlic, lemon peel and juice in blender. (My new Vitamix blender makes this process a breeze). Blend to thick paste. Add nutritional yeast, and blend until smooth With motor running, add 2-4 tablespoons water to processor. Season pesto to taste with salt and pepper.
Boil pasta according to package directions. Halve 1 quart of grape tomatoes. Drain pasta and add tomatoes. Gently fold in pesto and combine. YUM.
What made this recipe a BREEZE to throw together was this fantastic bag of pine nuts from Trader Joe's, which are already toasted. Keep them in the freezer for whenever the mood to make fresh pesto strikes...especially popular in the Summer months with gardens full of fresh basil. ^_^

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Big Fall Juice Clean 2014- Day 1

The Natural Energizer

This is juice number two (2) and three (3) on Monday (Day 1) on the 5lbs in 5 Days Juice Plan by Jason Vale.

"Creamy, sweet and mellow pineapple juice is the perfect balance to the mineral rich juice from the cucumber, spinach, sugar snap peas and zucchini. This juice is then taken to the next level by adding a hint of fennel and a dash of zesty lime". 

I've done Jason's full 5 Day Juice plane twice this year, and then try to follow it throughout various weeks for breakfast and lunch only. Sometimes I can't always find fennel, but when I have it and add it to this, I think it gives this juice an amazing subtle hint of freshness which really brings this up to the next level!

"Not only is this juice creamy and delicious, but unlike the array of artificial energizer drinks (that ultimately rob your body of nutrients, cause stress to your vital organs and send you on a roller coaster of refined sugar energy highs and lows) this juice will energize you the natural way – say “high” to nature"! ~Jason Vale

1/4 pineapple
1 large handful of spinach
1/4 cucumber
1/2 zucchini
1 inch chunk of fennel
15 sugar snap peas
1/2 organic lime (with the skin on)

How to create
Simply Juice all the ingredients. I make a double batch of this recipe in the morning, and then pour into two (2) mason jars. Then fill with ice so the juice reaches the top. Place the lid on, fasten tightly and you are good to go! I usually drink mine around 12 noon and 3 o'clock. This will definitely brighten up you day with a burst of green energy!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Mediterranean Hummus Pizza

A few years back,  I managed to convince my Pampered Chef consultant and friend to do an all-vegan Pampered Chef party at our home. Very few of the Pampered Chef recipes are actually vegan in their original state, BUT we managed to fine some contenders. And, with only a few simple tweaks or omissions, we pulled off cruelty-free vegan goodness, and quite well, too.
Still to this day, one of my favorite recipes was the Mediterranean Hummus Pizza, which, as you can see, is a virtual rainbow of vegan fun! It’s fresh and delicious, especially if you are in the mood for pizza, but don’t want something really heavy.
The basic recipe that I follow is below, but there is room for great improvisation here, which makes it all the more fun:
1   half recipe of whole wheat pizza dough (Julie Hasson's from Vegan Pizza)
1   tablespoon olive oil, for brushing
1   garlic clove, pressed
oregano, salt and pepper to taste

15  grape tomatoes, halved
1/4   medium red onion, finely chopped
2 baby cucumbers, halved and chopped
1/2   cup pitted kalamata olives
1   container (7 ounces) plain hummus spread (roasted red pepper is great, too)
1/2 cup each diced bell pepper (I had yellow and green this time)
2   jars (6-7.5 ounces each) quartered marinated artichoke hearts, drained

*some swaps that work well too:  roasted red peppers, tofu feta cheese, scallions, vegan tzatsiki, fresh basil for garnish

First we are going to bake the crust. Preheat a pizza stone in your oven at 425 for 30 minutes. I actually cook this crust at a little lower heat than my usual pizza with toppings.

Roll out you dough on some parchment paper into a 12" circle. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle on the garlic or powder, then some oregano, salt and pepper. Sometimes I will add some crushed red pepper too!

Slide dough onto your stone and bake for 12-14 minutes or until the crust is a light golden brown. Remove from the oven off the pizza stone and onto a cutting board. Spread the container of hummus evenly onto the crust. Then arrange the chopped vegetables on top. Cut into squares, (I like the square shape rather than wedges for this) and enjoy!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Spinach & Broccoli White Pizza

I went a little nuts with the pizza dough recipe from Vegan Pizza, which meant Pizza Night twice in one week!  What you see below is actually two batches of the whole wheat version of Julie's dough, where I used 2 cups whole wheat flour and 1 cup unbleached white.  The rest of the recipe is exactly as written in the link above.

The inspiration for this particular pizza came from the leftovers that happened to be in my fridge at the time: One (1) container of Olivia's Organic Baby Spinach, and two (2) small broccoli crowns leftover from when I made Broccoli Mac and Cheese Casserole the night before. AND...for some extra cheesy goodness, I had already sliced open my free sample of Mozzarella Teese from Vida Vegan Con to use on The Rocket Pizza earlier in the week, so I had a good 3/4 of it left!  

I decided on a White Pizza: home made crust topped with a creamy garlic Alfredo base, then topped with lightly sauteed baby spinach, blanched broccoli, and lots of garlic, then finished with some strategically placed mozzarella slices.

Before I began, I preheated a pizza stone in a 500 degree oven. My pizza stone is the large round one from Pampered Chef, and it's best to let it preheat for a good thirty minutes.

For the sauce, I decided to tweak Julie's Smoky White Cheese Sauce recipe a bit, to stand in for the Alfredo on the pizza.  Basically, I omitted the "smoke" and added in 2 teaspoons of Italian seasoning.

Cheesy Alfredo Pizza Sauce (adapted from Julie Hasson's Smoky White Cheese Sauce)

1 cup almond milk, unsweetened
1 cup water
1/2 cup raw, unsalted cashews
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
2 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp tahini
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp Italian Seasoning
  • In a blender, combine all the ingredients and blend well, until no bits of nuts remain.  Sauce should be very smooth.
  • Add blended mixture to a sauce pan, and bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking the whole while.
  • Lower heat and continue to cook for another 10 minutes, or until it starts to thicken. Be careful not to burn.  The sauce with thicken more as it cools.
I set the sauce aside to cool while I cooked my greens and rolled out my dough. I quickly blanched my fresh broccoli florets in the microwave covered with a damp paper towel with 2 TBSP of water for about 3-4 minutes. I then sauteed the baby spinach in 1 TBSP of olive oil, 3 cloves minced garlic, and 1 tsp crushed red pepper (pepper can be omitted of your tongue can't take the heat). As the spinach wilted, I added the blanched broccoli to the pan, tossed everything together with salt and pepper to taste, then set aside to cool a bit.
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The unbaked pizza
I had enough dough, sauce and toppings for two pizzas. I usually roll my dough out onto parchment paper on top of my cutting board, so I can quickly transfer the pizza and parchment right onto my preheated pizza stone without loosing too much heat from the oven. Once the dough was rolled out, about 1/4" thick, I used about 3/4 cup of sauce on each pizza, then topped each one with half of my garlicky spinach and broccoli. I then sprinkled a bit of nutritional yeast, and placed around 6-8 slices of Mozzarella Teese over top.  Finally, I baked each one in the oven for 11-12 minutes, or until cheese is melted and crust is golden.

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So the next time you are craving something garlicky and green, why don't you give this delicious pizza pie a try ^_^

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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Deconstructed than Re-constructed Omelet, Tofu Style

There are some days where a dish comes together from the random leftover ingredients in the fridge, and this particular Tofu Scramble is just that.  The day prior, we had treated ourselves to our favorite diner for breakfast.  Patriot's Diner in Woonsocket, Rhode Island has some of the best home fries I've even had, the service is great, and the decor is fantastic!

Now this place is far from vegan, but after going there for several years, I have settled on my old-standby: A side of home fries, which is HUUGE, and then add on the vegetable medley (broccoli, peppers, mushrooms tomatoes and onion) from the Vegetarian omelet on the side, which is equally as huge. Most of the time I bring home at least half of the dish, so the next day, I decided to make my own "Vegetarian" Omelet, Tofu Style!

I had a coupon for the Black Soybean Tofu pictured above, as well as half a package of Tofurkey Kielbasa that we had eaten the night before, dipped in mustard (YUM).

Next time we are going to serve them on crusty sub rolls with spicy mustard, but I thought the leftovers might be a nice meaty addition to the scramble.

So, scramble away!

Don't forget to add some salt, pepper, turmeric if you want it yellow (I didn't this time) and extra Nooch! Serve with Frank's RED Hot, if you dare. That's how we do it here! ^_^