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! ^_^

Friday, September 20, 2013

Farmer's Market Friday!

On Fridays during the Fall, Bon Appetit dining services here on campus hosts a lovely Farmer's Market right in the quad outside of the Bookstore.

Being the veggie lover that I am, I usually head out and buy something; one, because I can always use it, and two, because I want to show support for their event.

Today was extra special because there were samples that I could eat. (The last few weeks had been artisan sausages and local cheese). This week was pea greens from Allen Farm in Westport, MA, a 50 acre farm run by Debbie Barrett.

Debbie's sweet delicate pea greens have become quite well known here in southern New England, and are often found in many restaurants here in Providence.

Today the new Chef de Cuisine, John, was featuring the pea greens in a colorful salad that was making my mouth water. He was even kind enough to make a small batch withOUT the cheese so that I might have a taste!

I am not sure of exact amounts, and I'm never too strict when making up a salad, but you can see all the ingredients here below:

Toss together ingredients above with a generous amount of the fresh pea greens, salt and pepper to taste, and some home made Lemon Vinaigrette.

Basic Lemon Vinaigrette
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 1 teaspoon agave
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Whisk together until well combined.

Here is my cheeseless sample on an adorable bamboo bite size plate!  I was so thrilled that Chef took a moment to make up a batch with out the cheese that I bought all the ingredients to make the salad this weekend at home.

Just look at these beautiful carrots:

Thanks again, Bon Appetit, for another great week! Keep up the good work. ^_^

*** Here is my recreation of Chef John's salad at home. This one is the undressed version still in the bowl. It looked a little better on the plate ;)))

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Rocket - Margherita with a twist!

The inspiration for this pizza comes from one we had at Providence Coal Fire Pizza. Essentially, it is a Margherita Pizza topped with a few handfuls of fresh arugula after baking. Fantastic!

The homemade crust you see here is from Julie Hasson's new book, Vegan Pizza, for which I was lucky enough to be a tester. 

This is the whole wheat version of her homemade dough, which is quick, simple, NO knead, and comes out fantastic every time! The recipe for the "Easy-Peasy" basic white flour pizza dough can be found here in this article from The Oregonian. To make you dough whole wheat, simple replace two (2) cups of the white flour with whole wheat flour (I use Bob's Red Mill). One of the many things I can say about being a tester for this book, is that I have lost ALL fear of homemade dough, and working with yeast. Pizza is now in the regular dinner rotation here at our house. Thank you, JULIE!

So for the rest, we have:

THE ROCKET (adapted and veganized from Providence Coal Fire Pizza)
  • 1/2 batch of whole wheat pizza dough form Vegan Pizza, (brushed with extra virgin olive oil, and sprinkled with Italian seasoning, salt, pepper)
  • 1/2 cup San Marzano tomato puree
  • 1 tsp Greek oregano (from the festival)!
  • 6-8 slices of Teese mozzarella (sample from Vida Vegan Con)!
Bake pizza at 500 degrees on a PREHEATED pizza stone for 11-12 minutes. 
*Try and preheat your stone for at least 30 minutes. I roll my dough out on parchment paper on top of my cutting board, top the pizza with sauce, cheese and/or toppings, and then use the cutting board to transfer the parchment right to the pizza stone. I try and work as quickly as possible, so the oven doesn't loose any of that wonderful heat while the door is open.

While the pizza bakes, toss several handfuls of baby arugula with a small drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and some sea salt to taste. When the pizza comes out of the oven, I spray it a bit with the fantastic chili basil oil (pictured in the back of the first photo), that my mom brought me back from Italy. And, then top with the fresh arugula and a bit of nutritional yeast. Today, we also had some leftover cherry tomatoes, which I thought looked nice on top, too!

Slice in to 8 pieces and ENJOY!!  The peppery arugula gives this traditional plain pie a nice fresh kick. Try it out and let me know what you think. ^_^

Monday, September 16, 2013

"What do you mean, you don't eat no meat"?

"That's okay. I make lamb". ~My Big Fat Greek Wedding

This past weekend was the Greek Festival here in Cranston, RI at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church.  OPA!!  A day to celebrate Greek heritage and food, that would make most carnivores weep for joy.  I was, most likely, the only vegan for miles, but still managed to get my full share of Greek food and fun!

I have to say, the Greeks must be doing something right, because the line for the food tent curled right out past the church, and onto the street! We fortunately went during mid afternoon, and our wait was not long at all. 

While everyone else stood in lines for gyros, pastitsio, and roast meat on a stick, I searched for something a bit more vegan-friendly. L's mother was kind enough to pick up the tab for everyones food, so I went with Dolmades, 6 to and order. Dolmades are the young leaves of the grapevine stuffed with a lemon flavored mixture of rice and onion, usually served cold. These were made fresh, and were fantastic! The rice inside is short grain and creamy, something like the Greek version of arborio rice in Italy. They even had some for sale, right next to the ouzo table!

And, I picked up a bag of the most gorgeously fragrant oregano brought back from Greece! I see some pizza in my future...

After our snack, I was looking for a pick me up, so I thought a nice cup of Greek coffee would do the trick!

Traditional Greek coffee is a bold, full flavored shot of coffee, much like the Italian's espresso.  It is served with a luscious foam on top, and the grounds left in the bottom of the cup. Although it can be made in a different pot, the traditional small pot called a briki (shown in photo) is best because it allows the proper amount of foam, which adds to the unique taste. The coffee itself is finely ground, much like the consistency of cornstarch or powdered sugar.  You can see it in the container to the right of the stove, it almost looks like cinnamon. I was telling the nice gentlemen preparing the coffee that I prefer mine black, and he said that it was NOT traditional to add dairy to the Greek coffee.  Perfect!

This preparation is called sweet boiled coffee:

1 tsp ground coffee
2 tsp sugar
very cold water, about 1/4 cup

Stir until coffee and sugar dissolve.  Place the briki over the medium flame, and lift the briki up and down from the heat, allowing the coffee to come just to the boiling point THREE times.  This will make a lot of the precious foam that gives the Greek coffee its distinct taste.  Serve piping hot!

And do not forget!!  The GROUNDS ARE STILL AT THE BOTTOM!!  I'll know for next time...

I'll leave you with a little dancing, in the traditional Greek style!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Wacky Cake with Chocolate Glaze

*Today, I am dusting off this recipe because it is my friend's bridal shower! Mailed out with the invitation was a recipe card to fill out with a (family) recipe to share. Of course, I wanted my recipe to be vegan, but I DID want it to be one she would actually consider making.  This is the one I shared:

I think almost every vegan has a Wacky Cake recipe up their sleeve. For those of you that don't know, WACKY CAKE is "wacky" because it's a chocolate cake, made without any milk or eggs. Recipes such as this one came to be during the Great Depression, where ingredients such as milk and eggs were extremely had to come by, and often too expensive for the average family. The "lift" in this cake comes from the reaction between the baking soda and vinegar. 

I found this recipe buried in a random website, labeled as the BEST CHOCOLATE CAKE EVER" and it just so happens to be vegan. The chocolate glaze totally makes this recipe, so do yourself a favor and try it at least once. Cake IS still amazing in its own, dusted with some powdered sugar. I added in the "optional" extracts that I use when making the cake too. They really add a great flavor.

THE Best Wacky Cake with Chocolate Glaze

1 1/4 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon chocolate extract (optional)
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon white vinegar or 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

For the Chocolate Glaze
1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons margarine (I use Earth Balance vegan margarine)
2 tablespoons soymilk or 2 tablespoons almond milk, unsweetened
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Lightly spray a square cake pan (mine's 9x9) with nonstick cooking spray.
  3. In a mixing bowl, mix together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt with a whisk, making sure it is blended together well.
  4. In a large measuring cup add the water, vanilla, oil, and vinegar, and whisk to combine.
  5. Add wet ingredients to the dry and mix batter until blended together well.
  6. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides if necessary.
  7. Pour batter into cake pan, place in oven and bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean.
  8. Cool on a rack completely.
  9. For the glaze: in a small saucepan, bring sugar, margarine, milk, and cocoa to a boil.
  10. Stir frequently; then reduce heat to a simmer for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  11. Remove from heat and stir for another 5 minutes.
  12. Add vanilla and almond, if using, stir, and immediately pour onto cake.
  13. The glaze will begin to dry really quickly, so if it doesn't cover the whole cake (mine usually does) spread the glaze to the edges quickly, before it dries.
  14. If you like, top with sprinkles, and let cool for a hour.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Thirsty Thursday - The Grange

(I am failing at MOFO this year, but I'm not giving up)!!

A new vegetarian restaurant opened up on Broadway, here in Providence, and it is slowly becoming one of my all time favorite places! The philosophy of The Grange is to highlight local and seasonal ingredients, as well as operate a low carbon, sustainable business.  

For Thirsty Thursday this week, I'd like to focus the Grange's fabulous selection of original cocktails, which are balanced and crafted to perfection, using a variety of local spirits.

The Ampersand (&)

Bully Boy White Rum, fresh orange, Cherry Heering, Dolin Rouge, shaken with ice, strained and served!

Here you can see the spirits up close. Some of them were new to me. The Cherry Heering is a luscious cherry liquor and the Dolin Rouge is a sweet red vermouth made in Chambery, France.

Next, we have The Basandere

The Grange's take on the classic Margherita: Agavales Blanco Tequila, Velvet Falernum, lime, torched sage, B&H Orange Bitters. I have discovered that Falernum is the generic term for a spiced citrusy sweet syrup used to flavor Caribbean cocktails. It contains flavors of almond, ginger or cloves, lime and vanilla. Velvet Falernum is the alcoholic version made in Barbados, and is similar to a low proof rum, and is the perfect addition to any TIKI bar!

And last, but not least, my all time favorite, The 00 (Double Ought) Buck

Rittenhouse Rye B.I.B., Grange ginger lemon, Bittermens Hellfire Bitters, garnished with a flamed orange peel. Luscious, with a lovely, fiery heat from the ginger and Hellfire Habanero Shrub .

The Grange is truly bringing back the art of mixology, as well as the love of cocktail classics.  As the bartender says: "There are no "Bacardi and Diets" here". ^_^

Sunday, September 8, 2013

WOW Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Sometimes you find a recipe winner in the least likeliest of places.

Like here, for example: I was running low on sugar and happened to be in Ocean State Job Lot, a local discount store here in Rhode Island, that has one of the most extensive selections of Bob's Red Mill Products I think I've ever seen.  I grabbed a small bag of evaporated cane juice to get me through until my next trip to the big grocery store. On the back of the package was this cookie recipe that really caught my eye:

See? And it was already vegan. I even cut it off the back, and stuck it to the fridge so I wouldn't forget! 

Fast forward several months later... We were craving something sweet and I looked over and remembered my little clipping!

For those of you that can't read the microscopic iPhone photo, a web version of the recipe can be found here, along with a very interesting article on the milling of white vs. whole wheat flour.

I thought WOW Cookies was an appropriate name because WOW, they tasted great, were made with whole grain flour and oats, and they were just the right amount of sweet.  Next time I might try using coconut oil in place of the margarine.  And, WOW as in Bob's recipe says "make 2 dozen cookies" but in reality made closer to FOUR.  We had cookies coming out of our ears... Which meant: all the more to share with my co-workers! ^_^

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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Thirsty Thursday ~Margarita~

Thank you, Jojo, for the last minute inspiration!

Looking for that special touch to make your margaritas stand out?  I have found the ultimate secret:  three (3) to four (4) dashes a grapefruit bitters per serving, and prepare to fall in love.  

As you can see, there is no salt on my rim, you don't need it.  The grapefruit bitters give it that special something that, I think, beats a salted rim any day.  I bought the Fee Brothers bitters at a gourmet grocer up in Boston this past Spring, and this had been my favorite use for them so far:

I am bad with measuring my cocktails (I reserve that for my better-half), but if I WERE to measure, it would go something like this:


2 oz Tequila Blanco
1 oz Triple Sec
3-4 dashes grapefruit bitters
3/4 oz fresh lime juice
1 tsp agave
lime or orange slice (or both) to garnish

If you are fancy, you can use a Boston shaker to mix the ingredients above with ice, and then strain.  I am not fancy, and prefer to pour everything over ice cubes in an Old Fashioned glass, and stir with one of my rainbow swizzle sticks.

As you may notice, there is no sour, acid-reflux, pre-made bottled margaritas here. In our house, we like to use freshly squeezed limes, or make our mix from scratch.  I mentioned in an earlier post that I helped test recipes from Joni Marie Newman's book, Vegan Food Gifts.  I haev to say, she has one FANTASTIC recipe for home made margarita mix, using fresh limes, oranges, and agave.  Do you self a favor and try it out!  If Google books is behaving, I believe you can get a sneak peek of the mixture here.  Let me know what you think ^_^

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Raspberry Berry-Banana Smoothie

After yesterday's post, I thought I might give you something a bit more light and refreshing:

Raspberry, Berry-Banana Smoothie

1 cup raspberries 
1 cup strawberries
1 frozen banana
2 cups almond or soy milk
1 tbsp chia seeds

Blend until smooth and enjoy!
Serves 2

*Please note, the awesome swatch from Isa, a souvenir from her iPhone photography class at Vida Vegan Con ^_^

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Recipe Urban Legends (Facebook Edition) ~Crack Potatoes~

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For those of you on Facebook, I am sure you have seen a few of these "reposts" sneak through your feed from time to time...  I call them Recipe Urban Legends, because they are usually posted with such a sense of urgency, while shrouded in awe and mystery:

~Finally!! I FOUND it! DONT want to lose this again - DON'T be like me! SHARE to save this on your wall!! You won't believe it!!!!!!
**SHARE so it will save in your timeline**
✔ Like ✔ “Share” ✔ Tag ✔ Comment ✔ Repost ✔Follow me
To SAVE this , be sure to click SHARE so it will store on your personal page.

Of course, I have yet to see a vegan one.  Maybe they exist.  Who knows? For the most part these recipes are something along the lines of: bacon, ranch, crescent roll, buffalo, biscuit, cheesy, chicken, 1-dish crockpot, casserole. Most of the time, I think to myself, EW who on EARTH would eat this, or better yet, make it for family or guests?  But then sometimes I think, "well, if you swap out a couple things... this could make one fine vegan dish..."

So, for those of you who do not know, I am in my most busiest time at work: University back-to-school.  Think: 12 hour days, six days a week, some pretty intense overtime pay, and hardly a moment to put together a decent, healthy meal.  And, then there is Vegan mofo on top of all that...  

So, as I gazed at 6 lonely potatoes sitting in a bowl on my counter, as well as a lovely sample of Wayfare whole grain bacon-y bits from Vida Vegan Con:
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a recipe "urban legend" that passed through my Facebook feed earlier that day came to mind:  

CRACK POTATOES.  The name says it all... or does it?

Either way, I had everything on hand, including leftover vegan ranch dressing that I made up from Joni's mix in Vegan Food Gifts (great book, I tested recipes for it ~ check it out)!

Crack Potatoes - Vegan Style!

*Now, this recipe has been shared up, down, and all over Facebook, but, to give credit where credit is due, the original post and recipe I used is here.  (Apparently, there is a Crack Dip, too...)

3 lb potatoes, washed and cubed
4 Tbsp, butter Earth Balance (I used half this and it was STILL too much. 1T at the most)
1/4 c. Real Bacon Bits Wayfare Vegan Bacon-y Bits
1/4 c. ranch dressing
1/2 c. cheese Daiya Cheddar shreds

1. Put potatoes in an 8x8 in glass dish. Put butter on top of potatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle bacon bit on top. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 400 degrees for 1 hour.
2. Take potatoes out of oven and top with ranch dressing and cheese. Stir. Put back in oven until cheese is melted.

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Before baking

Ya know, these weren't half-bad. Not quite the level of "crack" I was expecting, but not too shabby either. I would definitely cut the Earth Balance way back next time, and maybe sprinkle the potatoes with the dried ranch seasoning mix instead. My vegan ranch separated from the heat of the oven before the cheese was melted.

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So, you all may be the judge, and I am curious your thoughts:  Just because a recipe CAN be veganized, should it? ^_^