Upcycled Rice Salad

upcycledgrainsalad 1

Do you ever find yourself starving at lunch time and the peanut butter and jelly you’re making for your kids looks dreadful? Turning to your fridge you find, well, nothing. Nothing but a bunch of randomness that makes no sense in terms of a “normal” meal? Or maybe I’m the only one. This here salad is the result of such an afternoon and a template for future afternoons, when you know you need the energy and stamina that comes from whole foods but can’t seem to put it together.

I love the word Upcycling. Upcycling describes how you and your partner are more than the sum of the two parts, or how that almond milk box was transformed from future trash into a bird-feeder. Sure, you and your milk carton were both functional before the change, but now you’ve become magical. It’s so much more than just reusing.


So, an upcycled salad is just the mixing of ho-hum parts to make beautiful epicurean harmonies in a matter of minutes. Here’s how it works in my house. My fridge usually has a cooked grain and various and sundry vegetables can be found lying around. If you aren’t accustomed to having lots of vegetables around, it’s time for you to give it a try. Buy things you normally wouldn’t when they’re on sale and try them. I generally also have a random salad dressing I experimented with or some sort of leftover sauce. Right now there is a quasi-creamy balsamic and a raw waldorf. And what kind of a hippie would I be without nuts and dried berries stored in the nooks and crannies of my community kitchen (it’s a small community, but a community nevertheless)?

That’s all a grain salad needs to come together. And when you stir it together, the creative genius inside you will sing songs of happiness, the writer’s block that has plagued you for 12 years will lift, and your children will behave. Or, perhaps, you will at least feel better than if you’d had that peanut butter and jelly sandwich.


Upcycled Grain Salad, this incarnation

2 c. cooked grain – brown rice, quinoa, barley, whatevs.
1-2 c. sturdy diced raw vegetables – carrots, onions, tomatoes, spinach, zucchini, corn, peas, etc.
2 T. chopped nuts, pepitas, or sunflower seeds
1-2 T. chopped dried fruit – cranberries, blueberries, raisins, apples, etc.
½ c. (give or take) Pepita Maple Butter dressing (thinned), or something of your own creation.
*optional: chutney, diced avocado, fresh herbs, random condiments for garnish

Combine everything but your garnish and stir. Garnish, chill (you or your salad, either works) and enjoy.

*You may notice the awesome green stuff on top. It was a rushed, and perhaps failed, attempt to make coconut cilantro chutney from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, but on this application, it was AWESOME!

“Mexican” Quinoa in the rice cooker? Yes.

Mexican QuinoaI am not an overly scheduled person. I can’t handle a full calendar – that’s what college was for, right? But my son has a reading group at the library on Wednesday afternoons that goes right up to 5pm and my husband has meetings at 6:30. Soooo, if at all possible, I like to have dinner waiting for me when we get home to keep the yelling to a minimum.

I got creative this afternoon. My rice cooker (similar to this one) is very smart and can cook rice 6 different ways. But I don’t understand it very well and the instructions aren’t all that helpful. In fact it came with two special measuring cups for different uses that hold the exact same amount – explain that to me. But I do know how to use the timer (that sings “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” to my daughter’s delight) so I wanted to have something ready when we got home.

Nearly every recipe online for Mexican rice in a rice cooker calls for white rice, not what I wanted and besides, this was for our standard burrito/wraps and we like quinoa better anyway. Though this time I wanted something with more heft than plain quinoa.

Knowing that quinoa and white rice take about the same amount of time to cook made this a more universal recipe, meaning any rice cooker should work. All I needed were the ingredients and a plan – I had the former and came up with the latter. And I’d say it worked since all three kids, the Matt, and I loved it.

Mexican Quinoa

Mexican Quinoa in a rice cooker


2 ¼ c. water
1 c. quinoa, rinsed thoroughly
½ c. frozen corn
½ medium onion, diced
1 – 2 cloves garlic, minced or 1-2 t. garlic powder
3 T. tomato paste
1 T. dried green chiles or 2 T. fresh or canned, keeping seeds for more heat
1 T. Veggie powder or 1 t. vegetable Better Than Bouillon
1 – 2 t. salt (or to taste)
1 t. cumin
Juice of one lime
Cilantro, for garnish


Add all ingredients except lime juice to the rice cooker and cook (or set the timer on your rice cooker to be done when you get home!). As soon as it’s done, fluff it up and stir in the lime juice. Enjoy as is, or use for topping your burritos or tacos or salads.

Tasty Tuesday Series Part III – The Vegan Mother’s Day Feast

It’s still Tasty Tuesday, sick of me yet? Well you won’t be when I give you the recipes from our Mother’s Day Feast at the end of this post 😉

Vegan Mother’s Day Feast

Frosty Blackberry Lemonade with Mint

Green Salad with Roasted Beets, Sweet Potatoes, Avocado and Slivered Almonds (Inspired by this dish at the VVP)

Handmade Artisan Boule

Baked Millet Risotto

Sauteed Green Beans with Radishes (not pictured)

Maple Glazed Seitan Almond Neat Loaf

Orange Infused Chocolate Truffle Tart

Sounds good doesn’t it? This Mother’s Day I wanted to treat myself a special celebration feast. Not just a celebration for being a mother, which is notable on its own, but a celebration of self. You see, I switched my family to a whole-foods-plant-based diet in January, 129 days ago. My first post describes why I went plant-based. Here is a short re-cap. I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis, an Autoimmune Inflammatory Bowel Disease 6 years ago. Since that point I have been sick, sometimes so sick that I would have 30 or more bloody bowel movements a day. I couldn’t leave the house without an adult diaper or make it to a bathroom in the house on time. I had constant stomach pain, it would hurt so bad I would often cry.  I was on all kinds of medications, many of which were very damaging to my body and had horrible side effects, including a 100 lb weight gain. In addition to that I also had developed some auto-immune skin conditions including facial swelling called angioedema.

Now for the good part of the story. Since switching to a 100% vegan diet, I have completely resolved all my health issues. I am not currently taking any prescription drugs of any kind and my disease is in complete remission. I was only reminded that I even had an autoimmune disease last week when I didn’t sleep enough and had way too much stress going on. My stomach rebelled a little, but nothing at all like it used to.  Diapers and prescriptions did not get involved! There is an important health trio of eating the right foods, getting enough sleep, and keeping stress in check.

My quality of life has drastically improved. I had forgotten what it felt like to feel well, it’s a wonderful feeling. So I wanted to celebrate that, cause I’m pretty dang proud of myself for making myself well.  Here is the plant-based feast I created for myself. (My husband usually prepares the Mother’s Day meal, but was a bit daunted by a plant-based feast, so he watched the children while I spent the afternoon cooking. It was divine (really). The reason some of the photos are in the back of a car is that when we were about to sit down to eat (and I was about to take some photos of said feast) is that I found out there was someone who needed a little mother’s day feast on their table too, so I split our meal in half and did a delivery. Good thing I always make too much food!

Frosty Blackberry Lemonade: from my post for the VVP, using fresh blackberries that were blended with water then strained to remove seeds) instead of strawberries, recipe here

Green Salad with Roasted Beets, Sweet Potatoes, Avocado and Slivered Almonds

2 Sweet Potatoes

2 Beets, tops removed

1 Diced Avocado

Beet greens from above beets

4 C. Romaine or baby lettuces

Red Wine Vinegar

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Salt  & Pepper

Garlic Clove

1/4 C. Slivered Almonds

Method: rinse and scrub sweet potatoes and beets. Leave skins on, Bake on a tray lined with parchment paper in 350 degree oven for 60 minutes or until soft. Let cool. Cut garlic clove in half and rub clove all over the inside of your salad bowl, save clove for another use. Pull skin from sweet potato (it will fall right off), dice sweet potatoes and beets into 1/2 inch cubes. Place lettuce, beet greens, beets, sweet potato, avocado and slivered almonds in salad bowl. Drizzle with a quick drizzle of the olive oil and the vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Toss lightly and serve.

Handmade Artisan Boule: recipe here

Baked Millet Risotto: click here for my recipe

Sauteed Green Beans with Radishes

1 lb fresh green beans, washed and trimmed

1 red onion, cut into slivers

1 bunch radishes, washed with greens removed

1 garlic clove minced – from above salad, saved for another use 😉

Method: Water saute onion and green beans over high heat, adding a couple of tablespoons of water as needed, add radishes and garlic, cook until for a few more minutes. Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper to taste

Maple Glazed Seitan Almond Neat Loaf: click here for my recipe

Orange Infused Dark or “Milk” Chocolate Truffle Tart

1 bag (or 2 cups) dairy free dark chocolate chips

1 cup canned coconut milk, warmed till steaming

1-2 packages shelf stable mori-nu lite silken tofu

1 drop wild orange essential oil or 1/2 t. orange extract

6 graham cracker sheets (omit or use substitute for gluten-free version)

2 T. tahini

Method: Process graham cracker sheets with tahini in food processor. Press into bottom of 8 inch springform pan. May be a bit dry and crumbly, that’s okay! The moist filling will adhere to it nicely! Place chocolate chips in a medium bowl. Pour steaming coconut milk over chocolate chips. Stir until melted. In the blender, put 1 or 2 blocks of mori-nu silken tofu depending on your chocolate intensity level, 1 block makes a super intense dark chocolate truffle dessert. 2 blocks makes a more mild “milk” chocolate truffle dessert. Pour melted chocolate over tofu, add 1 drop orange essential oil or the orange extract. Blend until thoroughly combined. Pour over graham cracker crust. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight before serving. Remove from springform pan and garnish with chocolate shavings and orange zest strips if desired. Makes 8-16 servings depending on your tolerance for an ultra-rich dessert.

My sincerest apologies to Millet

After all your endorsements for the poor grain, I decided I would earnestly, without bias, try it again. At my mom’s suggestion,  I added a little more water to the pan of millet I had just finished “cooking” and cooked it a little more. Guess what?  I. do. not. like. Uncooked Millet. But cooked millet is just dandy. And that is all I have to say about that.

This last week has been crazy at work and at home.So crazy,  I have worn the same outfit everyday for the past seven days (I am not kidding). It is a hippie skirt with a soft cotton top—more comfy than pajamas and required no brain work after the first day of wearing it. It worked out so well for me, I am thinking about implementing a “weekly outfit plan.” Oh yes, same “Amish” hair style everyday too.


I didn’t cook anything new this week, I relied on my old favorites (black bean soup, African stew, ratatouille, enchiladas—I like them best with option #2 sauce etc). However I did learn something that will come in handy for all of us. Taco Time has an awesome Veggie wrap. That is right I said Taco Time. I know this because every Friday me, my two sisters and mom have lunch. We take turns providing lunch.  The first time my vegetarian sister had to provide, it was sweet, sweet justice to see the look of panic on her face when she realized she was going to have to come up with something for a vegan. She went vegetarian years ago amongst meat eaters and before it was en vogue and feeding her was always stressful, so we usually just gave her the same thing we were eating, minus the meat—not healthy .


Last week it was my youngest sister’s turn and she introduced me to:


Veggie Burrito

A soft whole-wheat tortilla wrapped around refried pinto beans, seasoned rice, cheddar cheese, sour cream, lettuce, salsa fresca and roasted sunflower seeds. Big flavor in a big burrito. (I had it sans sour cream and cheese).

I have found several sources that list Taco Time’s refried beans as vegan, but I have emailed Taco Time for verification. Stand-by for answers from the horse’s mouth. This inspired me to create my own wraps with refried beans for me and grandma the next day for lunch—I think mine were better. But I am so glad to know I can grab something at Taco Time when I am having a “Somer” day.

My mom also gave me my very own jar of her homemade poppy seed dressing, which I love. I am going to experiment with ways to eliminate the oil, but in the meantime it does make my salads oh so delicious, and as chef AJ says, “we want our salads to be delicious.”

Mom’s Poppy seed dressing

(I took pictures of this, but the pic sort of made it look like poo and ‘nobody likes this”)

1 cup olive oil

½ cup sweetener (my mom just uses sugar)

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

1 T poppy seed

1 T grated onion

1 t salt

1 t dry mustard

Method: blend everything together until it is thick.

Week 9: Chronicles from March 4, 2012

So, we have technically finished our 60-day Vegan Challenge. We celebrated by having a little strawberry ice cream with our vegan chocolate cake last night. Boy, was it sweet and very, very creamy. It wasn’t bad, but I compare the amount that was sufficient last night to what it used to take and I’m astounded I could ever eat that much!

Anyway, I’m sure I’ll slow down on the full veganista thing since I’m starting to lose my ability to be upright for very long. And yes, I can only blame myself for not exercising as much with this pregnancy as the last two, but I can’t do a lot to remedy that at this point, so simplify, simplify, simplify. But I think we’ll all be surprised how much we stick with a whole foods, plant-based diet mostly because we love it.

• Black bean and veggie (thank you Red Iguana) burritos with guacamole, fresh salsa, spinach & cheese for the kids – one of those meals where I never feel I’m lacking something
Somer’s BBQ Seitan “Ribz” – I told Matt we were having ribs and he raised an eyebrow at me, to which I responded – with a “z” at the end, and he started throwing all sorts of letters into ribs to make them sound more vegan – wribz was probably the final outcome.
Asian Coleslaw – yum!
• Roasted baby potatoes, baby carrots (surprise find at our garden two weeks ago!) and onions – all seasoned up yummy (my favorite part of the meal)
Tuesday: – I looked at the menu and didn’t really like what I saw, so I squinted my eyes, did a few quick internet searches and had one of my best “experimental” dinners in a long, long time.
Everyday Red Lentil Dal – I added lemon juice at the end, and a lot of salt (I’m sorry, I know it will kill us!) and had to cook ours down for probably 15 more minutes to let it thicken up. And I added cilantro – I used to hate it but after pregnancy #1, I loved it – who knew?
• Brown Basmati Rice Pilaf – recipe below. I used a combo of a few different recipes and while it served it’s purpose as a good base, it didn’t stand alone very well. I think it needed more pomp than I gave it.
• Sauteed cauliflower with golden raisins, almonds and saffron – recipe below, because it was AWESOME!
• Black Bean Soup with optional cheese, recipe below
• Leftover Coleslaw and Fried Potatoes
• Tempeh Reuben Sandwiches (shhh, we put swiss on them, but don’t tell anyone), the recipe is sort of below, but I winged a lot of it. We ALL loved these.
• Sweet potato fries
• GROUPON NIGHT! Dasks for vegan gyro and vegan falafel – both pretty good, but just couldn’t compare with O’Falafel. It’s not even worth trying to compare, really.
• Grilled Pizza Night – peppers, onions, olives, sundried tomatoes, broccoli, some with mozzarella (which nobody – even the kids ate), some without cheese, some with Daiya
I love cooking pizza on the grill on the pizza stone. It makes awesome pizzas and in the summer it doesn’t heat up the house. It’s quick and delicious.
• Grilled Asparagus (skewered GIANT spears like a raft and grilled with olive oil, salt, and lemon pepper until tender – who knew you could make brush-cutter asparagus good?)

Brown Basmati Rice Pilaf
Based loosely on this recipe
• 1 Tablespoon olive or sunflower oil
• 1 ¼ t. mustard seed
• ½ onion, diced
• 1 teaspoon salt
• ½ t. cardamom
• Dash of cloves
• 2 cups long grain brown rice
• 3-1/2 cups water
• 1 c. frozen peas, defrosted
• Juice of one lime (give or take)
• Chopped cilantro for garnish
1. Preheat oven to 375F
2. Rinse rice in a fine-meshed sieve and drain well.
3. In the bottom of a French Oven, heat oil together over medium heat.
4. Add mustard seed and cook until popping
5. Add onion and cook for 1 minute.
6. Add salt and spices to the onion and cook for an additional minute.
7. Add rice, stir well to combine, and toast together for 2 minutes.
8. Add the water, and bring to a boil. Stir the rice once, then cover and place in the middle of the oven.
9. Bake for 40 minutes, then remove from oven, stir in peas, and let sit, covered, for an additional 10 minutes or until dinner is ready
10. Fluff rice with a fork, stir in lime juice and cilantro, and serve
This could probably be modified in a hundred different ways

Sauteed Cauliflower with Golden Raisins, Almonds & Saffron
Adapted from “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian” by Mark Bittman
• 1 head cauliflower, chopped into florets
• 1-2 T oil for sauteing
• Small handful golden raisins
• Small handful sliced almonds
• pinch of saffron
• salt and pepper, to taste
Steam cauliflower until just tender – don’t overcook since you’ll be cooking it during the saute process. In a large saute pan, heat oil over medium to medium-high heat. Add steamed cauliflower and cook until florets begin to brown, adding the raisins, almonds and saffron. Continue cooking until everything is a nice dark golden brown, and serve hot! So good. So, so good.

Black Bean soup
Adapted from a Food Network version
• 1 -2 T. olive oil
• 2-4 T Bac’uns or other bacon substitute
• 2 medium onions, chopped (about 2 1/2 cups)
• 6 garlic cloves, pressed
• 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can reduced-sodium vegetable broth
• 1 1/2 cups canned chopped tomatoes
• 2 tablespoons ketchup
• 2 teaspoons vegan or regular Worcestershire sauce
• 1 tablespoon chili powder
• 2 quarts (or 7-8 c.) black beans, drained but not rinsed
• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
• ½ bunch cilantro
• juice of 1/2 lime
• Thinly sliced scallions, for garnish
• Sour cream, optional for garnish
• Grated cheddar, optional for garnish
Heat oil over medium heat in a large soup pot, add Bac’uns and cook until a bit crispy, add onions and cook, stirring, until they start to turn translucent, about 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until you can smell it, about 1 minute. Add the broth, tomatoes, ketchup, Worcestershire, and chili powder. Stir in the beans, turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Adjust the heat so the soup is bubbling gently and cook 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, pick off all the thick stems from the cilantro. Wash it and shake dry. Chop the cilantro coarsely and stir it into the soup when it has been simmering 10 minutes. cook until the soup is thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the lime juice. Serve with the garnishes.

Tempeh Reuben Sandwiches
Adapted from THIS Food Network Recipe
• 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 small onion, thinly sliced
• 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
• 1-2 c sauerkraut, drained (as much as you think you’ll use)
• 1 sweet apple, grated
• Generous pinch allspice
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Russian Dressing:
• 1/4 cup vegannaise
• 1 tablespoon ketchup
• Dash hot sauce
• 1 tablespoon minced fresh chives and/or fresh dill
• 2 teaspoons capers, chopped
• 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
For the Sandwich:
• 8 oz package of Tempeh, sliced thinly
• Seasonings (to taste): liquid smoke, caraway seeds, dijon mustard, soy sauce or Bragg’s liquid aminos
• 8 slices rye bread
• Swiss cheese – sliced, optional
• Vegan butter or butter
For the sauerkraut:
Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Add the sauerkraut, apple, and allspice, season with salt and a generous grinding of pepper. Cook until sauerkraut is tender, lightly browned and all the liquid has evaporated, about 15 minutes more.
For the Russian dressing:
Mix all the dressing ingredients together, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
For the Sandwich:
Preheat oven to 350 – 400 degrees (I used the temperature needed for my sweet potato fries). Place tempeh in shallow baking dish, and brush with selected seasonings to give it your preferred pastrami flavor. Bake until warm and flavor is absorbed (I guessed with this whole sandwich, so who knows what happened).
Heat frying pan or griddle over medium heat. Layer rye bread with Russian dressing on both sides, sauerkraut, tempeh, and optional cheese. Butter the outside of the bread and cook on griddle until heated through, flipping to get crispy, crusty sandwichness.

Favorite Meals and Recipes so Far

I know, I’m posting a lot, just trying to play catch up since I have been doing this now for nearly eight weeks and have a lot of recipes/ideas backlog. So here are my favorites and yes, some of the recipes use some oil, not there yet! Feel free to omit the oil or replace it! I have been water sauteing my veggies or sauteing them in vegetable stock the last couple of weeks. For baking I have been using applesauce or bananas to replace equal parts oil. Getting the hang of it!

Moroccan Lentil Soup
2 T. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (can be omitted)
2 large onions, chopped
2 large carrots, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 heaped t. ground coriander
2 heaped t. ground cumin
1 t. turmeric
1 t. smoked paprika
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. ground black pepper
6 C. vegetable broth (I love better than bullion’s vegetable base, just mix with water)
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
2 C. dry red lentils, rinsed and picked over
1/2 C. chopped parsley
1/4 C. chopped cilantro
Juice of one lemon
Cook all ingredients except last 3 on stove-top for 30 minutes in large saucepan or in crock-pot on low for 6-8 hours. For texture variation you can pulse it a few times with a stick blender. Add lemon, parsley and cilantro just before serving. This recipe is adapted from my husband’s sister. She made it at our house one time, it was utterly divine. It is one of my favorite meals, I could eat it at least once a week. I really like sticking it in the crock-pot because it saves kitchen time and it thickens really beautifully.
Flax Pancakes
1 to 1 1/2 C. Almond Milk (depending on how thick or thin you like your pancakes)
2 T. Flax seed
1 banana, quartered
1 C. Whole Wheat Pastry Flour (regular whole wheat flour works too)
1 T. Pure Maple Syrup
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1 t. vanilla
1/4 t. kosher salt
Blend first 3 ingredients in blender until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and pulse til just combined. Cook 1 minute each side in medium-hot skillet. Serve with sliced fruit and drizzle with a little pure maple syrup. My daughter came home from school the day I made these and wanted me to make them again for an after school snack!
Vegan Bechamel
2 T. Earth Balance Spread (or vegan margarine of your choice)
2 T. Cornstarch
3 C. Unsweetened Almond milk or non-dairy milk of choice, just not sweetened!
4 T. Nutritional Yeast
1 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. pepper
1 minced garlic clove
Melt earth balance spread in small saucepan. Add minced garlic and cook til soft. Combine soy milk and cornstarch in a small bowl, then pour into saucepan. Stir until slightly thickened. Add remaining ingredients.
Uses: Crumble a block of tofu into this to make the white layer for lasagna (or blend it together for smoother texture), I made this with a red Portobello mushroom sauce and whole wheat noodles and it was lovely. Add a couple more tablespoons of nutritional yeast for macaroni and cheese sauce. For stronganoff add 1 T. Dijon mustard and serve with fettucine whole wheat noodles and sautéed onions and mushrooms.
Insanely Good Vegan Bear Claw Ice Cream (Dark Chocolate Ice Cream with Cashews and Chocolate Chips)
1 C. Coconut Milk (from a can, not a carton)
1/4 C. agave, or pure maple syrup
1/3 C. Cocoa powder
4 dates, pitted
1/2 ripe avocado, pitted, peeled and diced
3 C. ice cubes
1/2 C. roasted, salted cashews
1/4 C. dairy free dark chocolate chips (at health food store or ghiradelli, just read the label)
I used my blendtec to make this but you can probably still make it in a food processor if you don’t have the blendtec or vitamix. Blend or process all the ingredients except ice, cashews and chocolate chips until smooth. Add ice and blend or process until smooth. Stir cashews and chocolate chips in by hand. If its too soft, freeze for 30 minutes then enjoy!
Garbanzo Bean Salad
3 Roma tomatoes, diced
1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 minced clove garlic
couple of fresh basil leaves torn (if I don’t have basil, I will just use the dried herb)
2 T. Balsamic Vinegar
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste.
Combine all in a bowl. I could eat the whole thing for lunch! You can also add celery, cucumber or any other crunchy stuff. Really light and refreshing.
BBQ Seitan Mock wRibz
I originally got this off a blog called fatfreevegan.com– they got it from veganchef.com I adapted the recipe after making it a few times. I usually double the recipe because we really like it and it makes tasty foccacia rib sandwiches for the next day-  I can’t get enough of it. Usually seitan has to be endlessly boiled or steamed. This recipe you just bake it. Super Easy. It doesn’t taste exactly like meat, but is meaty enough to almost feel guilty. The kids like it too.
1 C. vital wheat gluten
1/2 C. almond meal (leftover from making homemade almond milk)
2 t. smoked paprika
2 T. nutritional yeast
2 t. onion powder
1 C. water
2 T. almond butter
1 T. liquid smoke
1 T. soy sauce
1 t. crushed dried thyme
1 t. kosher salt
1 t. spike
about 1/2 cup of your favorite barbecue sauce, I LOVE bull’s eye, it has sugar, but is one of the only store brands that doesn’t have high fructose corn syrup and tastes amazing, but I know I need to make my own healthier version…
Preheat the oven to 350 and lightly spray an 8×8 baking dish with canola oil. When I double it, I bake it on a big cookie sheet. The original recipe calls for hand kneading. I’m too lazy and dump everything in my food processor with the dough hook. Do not put the BBQ sauce in the seitan, its for brushing on top.  Once fully kneaded, dump it into your pan and press it down until it meets the edges. Cut into 16 strips. Bake for 20 minutes. Slather with BBQ sauce and broil for 5 minutes or until it the sauce starts to darken and form a nice glaze. Serve with baked potatoes doused with vegan ranch and a green salad or some steamed broccoli. Have also made oven fries a few times with this.
Mexican Mountain 2.0 with 2 enchilada sauce options
this is a recipe my dad made all the time when I was growing up. It’s kinda like a mexican lasagna. I just adjusted it so that I could still make it without the meat and without the cheese, sigh. I make either enchilada sauce depending on whether or not I have fresh salsa. This would also work with tomatillos for a green sauce…. Yum. I also used this same recipe last week and did enchiladas instead of layered tortillas. Both versions were big hits with the whole family.
enchilada sauce 1
2 t. cumin
1 T. chili powder
3 c. veggie stock (i use better than bullion vegetable base for everything now, it is currently at costco!)
1/4 C. tomato paste
1/4 C. whole wheat pastry flour
salt and pepper to taste
brown spices in small saucepan until fragrant. Add veggie stock and flour then stir in tomato paste. Cook until thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste if necessary
enchilada sauce 2
2 cups fresh (or in my case often freshly prepared salsa that was then frozen and defrosted) salsa (salsa is just tomatoes, onions, jalapeno, cilantro, lemon, salt)
1 1/2 C. water
1/4 C. whole wheat pastry flour
2 t. cumin
1 T. chili powder
salt and pepper to taste
Cook the same as above.
Creamy Sauce and other layers
1 block silken tofu
1 clove minced garlic
1 can black beans drained and rinsed (can also use refried beans)
whole wheat tortillas or corn tortillas
4 T. nutritional yeast
1 t. garlic salt
cilantro for garnish
sliced olives
diced green onion
blend silken tofu with garlic and 1.5  cups of the enchilada sauce you made (whichever option you choose) add nutritional yeast and blend until incorporated.  Season with salt and pepper to taste. Put some enchilada sauce in the bottom of a round pyrex. Layer tortillas with black beans or refried beans and some enchilada sauce. Add tortilla, layer with creamy sauce. keep layering until you run out of ingredients. Last layer has enchilada sauce topped with creamy sauce. Cover with sliced olives, green onions and cilantro. Bake 350 for 30 minutes. Serve with guacamole and green salad.
Engine 2  Panini’s
Watched Rip make these on “Engine 2 Kitchen Rescue” It’s kinda like a “Fork’s over Knives part 2″ and is currently streaming on Netflix and is a quick watch at 52 minutes. He says to use whatever veggies you have, so this is our variation. So So tasty, the hummus really does melt and taste like cheese.
2 slices whole wheat bread (I use a softer variety like Harper’s Homemade that is still 100% whole wheat)
Kale or spinach
shredded or matchstick carrots
sliced zucchini
sun-dried tomatoes
lemon zest
Layer the bread with a THICK layer of hummus, top with veggies of your choice, sprinkle some lemon zest on. Squish together and put in a hot frying pan (yes, you really don’t need to add oil, the bread browns beautifully without) Put a plate or round casserole dish on top of your sandwich and weight it with something else heavy. Rip uses a 15 lb weight in the film, I used my glass container full of dried black beans. After about a minute check it to see if it’s browned enough, flip and brown the other side. Really satisfying, really, really good.
Eggplant Sourdough Lasagna
Yes it’s eggplants and sourdough, in a LASAGNA. It’s a divine trilogy of 3 of my favorite things and no, sadly,  I wasn’t the creator. The recipe is here http://veganyumyum.com/2009/05/rustic-bread-eggplant-lasagna/ The only things I would do differently next time is use a homemade whole wheat sourdough and try to roast the eggplant without oil, I think the recipe could handle it. Pure Genius Lolo!
15 Minute Veggie Pizzas
Sun dried tomatoes
tomato paste
italian herbs, fresh or dried
sliced zucchini
sliced mushrooms
sliced red onion
whole wheat greek style pitas
baby spinach
julliened carrots
diced tomato
bell pepper slices
garlic salt
nutritional yeast
This is great for nights when you are in a hurry, when you haven’t got time to make a homemade whole wheat crust and you have lots of veggies you need to use up. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Top greek pita with a spoonful of tomato paste, sprinkle with garlic salt and italian seasonings or fresh herbs. Use whatever veggies you have and go to town, above is just a short list of toppings I have used. I let my kids create their own. Top off with a good sprinkling of nutritional yeast. Bake for 10 minutes until veggies are  lightly browned.
Maple Glazed Seitan Almond Neat Loaf
Can I just say wow? I finally figured out the seitan thing! This is SOOOO good. I paired it with Baked Millet Risotto and Wilted Spinach Salad (below). It was one of those dinners where everything came together beautifully and made me really really happy!
2 C. vital wheat gluten
about 1 C. almond meal (I used the leftover almond meal I had strained from my homemade almond milk, see Amanda’s recipe here), you could also just process 1 c. raw almonds really finely then omit the almond butter below.
4 T. nutritional yeast
2 t. smoked paprika
1/2 t. pepper
1 C. almond milk
4 T. ground flax seeds
2 T. soy sauce
2 t. Dijon mustard
2 t. vegan Worcestershire
2 T. almond butter
2 t. liquid smoke
1 onion, finely diced
2 minced garlic cloves
1 t. dried thyme
1 t. kosher salt
couple dashes of hot sauce
Yes, this is A LOT of ingredients, but each add their own component and make the dish AMAZING. Water saute the onions and garlic with the dried thyme until translucent. Then combine the onions with the rest of the ingredients in the food processor using a dough hook. Process until smooth and all ingredients are well mixed. Divide into 2 pieces and form 2 loaves. Place on a foil lined baking sheet. Glaze with half of the following: 1/2 C. heinz organic ketchup, 1/4 C. pure maple syrup, 1.5 T. braggs raw apple cider vinegar. Bake at 400 for 45 minutes, brush on remaining glaze and bake for an additional 15 minutes.
Baked Millet Risotto
4  1/4 C. water mixed with 1 1/2 T. better than buillion vegan no chicken base
2 bay leaves
1 T. earth balance spread
1 finely minced onion
2 C. millet
2 minced garlic cloves
1/8 t. turmeric for color
1/4 c. dry white wine or veggie broth (yes, I confess sometimes I sin when i cook)
2 T. nutritional yeast
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine water, buillion, nutritional yeast and bay leaves in a small sauce pan. Let simmer on low while you prepare the other ingredients. Melt earth balance in large saucepan, add onion and cook until golden. Stir in garlic, turmeric and millet. Cook and stir for a couple of minutes until fragrant. Add white wine and cook until absorbed. Spread millet mixture in a round casserole dish. Pour liquid stock over. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove bay leaves before serving. The millet is lovely and nutty, with a tiny bit of crunch. It’s a nice alternative to brown rice.
Wilted Spinach and Roasted Vegetable Salad
1 summer squash, sliced
10-15 grape or cherry tomatoes
1/4 red onion, finely minced
2 T. olive oil
salt and pepper
6 C. baby spinach
1 t. red wine vinegar
1 t. agave
Combine squash, tomatoes, red onion, salt and pepper and olive oil in a small baking dish. Bake at 400 degrees until veggies start to brown. Remove from oven. Combine with spinach in a large bowl. Drizzle with red wine vinegar and agave. Salt and pepper to taste again. Serve.
Roasted Ratatouille
This recipe is adapted from my America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook
2 globe eggplants, peeled, cubed and salted, then put in a strainer while you prepare the rest of the veggies
3 zucchini or summer squash cubed
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 28oz can diced tomatoes, drained with 1/3 c. juice reserved
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
5 minced garlic cloves
1/2 t. dried thyme
1 t. salt
1/8 t. pepper
1/2 c. chopped fresh basil
Drain and rinse eggplant to remove any bitterness. Combine all ingredients except basil and toss in large bowl to coat. Roast 60 minutes in a 400 degree oven until golden and browned, stirring once halfway through. Can be served over rice or noodles, but we like it best on homemade foccacia as roasted ratatouille and foccacia sandwiches.
Fast Foccacia
2 C. unbleached flour (I like king arthur or wheat montana)
2 C. whole wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat (wheat montana)
4 T. extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 T. active dry yeast
2 T. Vital wheat gluten
2 t. kosher salt, divided
1.5 C. warm water
dried italian seasonings, rosemary
I cheat on this recipe (ok, all my bread recipes) and use a old bread maker that I bought at Savers. It just kneads  really well and when it’s done kneading, I take my bread dough out and bake it in my own oven. Now you all know my bread secrets. Shhh! Combine flours, water, gluten, yeast, half the salt and half the olive oil in the bread maker. Let knead until a lovely dough forms.  At this point, you can continue to let it rise in the bread maker or you can remove it and let it rise in a bowl on the counter-top, I typically leave it in so I don’t end up with more dirty dishes. After the dough has doubled in size (about 30-40 minutes) I punch it down and smooth onto a large baking sheet that has been lightly oiled. Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees.  Roll out if necessary to reach edges. put divots in the dough with your index finger. Drizzle with remaining olive oil and sprinkle with remaining salt and the italian seasonings and rosemary. Put foccacia in the oven and turn the temperature off. Let rise for 15 to 20 minutes more. Without removing the bread, turn the oven to 350    degrees and bake for 20 minutes or until golden on top.

Greek Spinach Rice Balls

Ready to eat

Ready to eat

Jen here.  I wrote earlier about my new-to-me Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites cookbook.  I just realized that, in spite of my screaming two-year old, it’s time to share (Dad’s home so I’m not totally neglecting my son – he’s preferring dad two-to-one during active melt-downs).

One of my goals is to eat what I grow, and I want to grow more greens, so I  need to eat more greens.  I saw this recipe and thought it would be a great place to start (eating, not growing).  Plus I love lemon and dill together.  We bought a big bag of spinach from Costco (2.5 pounds) and used most of it.  Both kids ate at least a couple of these apiece, but I ended up eating the rest over a couple of days, and they held up well.  I’ll post the recipe as written, with my notes in [brackets].

Greek Spinach Rice Balls, page 35

Makes about 24 Ping-Pong-sized balls; Total time: 40 minutes

These tasty rice balls are fun to make with the kids for an everyday meal or a snack.  They also make good finger food at parties and are a welcome contribution to dish-to-pass suppers.

2 pounds fresh spinach, washed and large stems removed
1 cup chopped scallions (about 6 scallions) [I used green onions]
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cups cooked brown rice
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill (2 teaspoons dried)
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 cup plain or herbed bread crumbs [throw slices of fresh bread in the blender/food processor until you have enough; if you have extra, you can store them in the the freezer]

In a large covered pot, steam the spinach in the water that clings to the leaves until just wilted, 2 or 3 minutes.  Drain and chop the spinach and set it aside.  In another pan, lightly saute the scallions in the oil for about 5 minutes, or until softened and slightly browned. [Okay – after spending a lot of time with the spinach, next time I will buy frozen, chopped from Trader Joes, thaw it and drain it really, really well.  I’d probably use about 2-3 cups of spinach.  If you do use the fresh, plan on either using a really big pot, or steaming it in a couple of batches.  2 pounds of spinach take up  a lot of space until it cooks down.  For the scallions, I harvested what few green onions I could find in my garden.]

Working the spinach

Working the spinach

Half the spinach

Half the spinach

Garden fresh green onions

Garden fresh green onions

Preheat the oven to 350F.



In a large mixing bowl, combine the spinach, scallions, rice, dill, and lemon juice.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Stir well, mashing the rice mixture against the sides of the bowl with the back of a large spoon until the mixture holds together.

Prepare a baking sheet or large baking dish with cooking spray or a very light coating of vegetable oil.  With dampened hands, pack a heaping 1/4 cup of the rice mixture into a firm round ball (like making a snowball). [I found that I didn’t drain the spinach well enough – so my hands were definitely damp.  I squeezed a lot of extra liquid out as I was shaping the balls.  Also, I used closer to a heaping 1/8-cup since my first 1/4-cup ball was as huge as a $1.49 jawbreaker.  I wanted something I could actually fit in my mouth, and so aimed for the recommended ping-pong ball.]

Drain well

Drain well

About the size of a ping pong ball

About the size of a ping pong ball

Roll the ball in the bread crumbs and place it on the baking sheet.  Continue making balls until all of the rice mixture is used, arranging the balls on the baking sheet about an inch apart.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the balls are heated through and crisp on the outside.

VARIATION: Add 1 cup of grated feta cheese to the rice mixture.

Baked Brown Rice

Jen here again.  I just finished throwing this in the oven after church today and thought I’d share.  Around two years ago, I found 28-ounce bags of long grain brown rice on sale for a $1 a bag.  I bought a lot and I’ve been storing them in the freezer to maintain freshness longer (brown rice can get rancid if left out).

I know we need to eat more brown rice since it’s full of more good stuff than white rice.  But, it’s harder to cook – I can’t get it to turn out well in the rice cooker or on the stove top (burned bottoms and raw tops).  But, I found an excellent recipe on Recipezaar that comes from Alton Brown.  I always double the recipe so we can have some on hand.  (I’ll put the doubled measurements in parentheses.)  I guess if I’m going to take the time to cook brown rice, I want something to show for my efforts.

Alton Brown’s Baked Brown Rice – 6 (12) servings

1-1/2 cups (3 cups) long grain brown rice
2-1/2 cups (5 cups) water
1 T (2 T) unsalted butter
1 t (2 t) salt

1.  Preheat the oven to 375F.

2.  Boil the water and add the butter and salt.  Stir to dissolve salt and melt butter.

3.  Place the rice in an 8″ (9″ x 13″) casserole dish.  Pour the boiling water mixture over the rice and stir.

4.  Cover with foil and bake on the middle rack for 1 hour.

5.  Fluff with fork and serve.

6.  This rice also refrigerates and reheats fairly well, but it’s best freshly made.