Category Archives: Recipes

Cookies!

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Hi. My name is Melissa and I don’t like baking.

This has been true from the time I was 8, had mixed together some cake batter, and then was too terrified to put it in the oven.

Fast forward to last month, when I heard about the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap.

The GREAT FOOD BLOGGER COOKIE SWAP brings together food bloggers from around the world in celebration of all things scrumptious. The premise is this: sign up. Receive the addresses of three other food bloggers. Send each of them one dozen delicious homemade cookies. Receive three different boxes of scrumptious cookies from other bloggers. Eat them all yourself (or, you know, share. If you want. No judgement either way.) Post your cookie recipe on your blog. See everyone else’s cookie recipes. Salivate. Get lots of great ideas for next year’s cookie swap. Rinse and repeat.

I signed up for the online swap before I could talk myself out of it. Then, I panicked. Omg! The last time I baked cookies was the Snickerdoodle experiment that took place on Snowmageddon 2011. This was going to be interesting.

Since I’m a cookie baking novice, I had to find a recipe to follow. I found an awesome recipe in Bake and Destroy which is so easy and unbelievably vegan! Super huge THANK YOU to Joelen of What’s Cookin’ Chicago for giving me this book!

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Vegans! You gotta get this book and check out BakeandDestroy.com. For the cookie swap (and also for the Chicago Food Swap, which I will recap in a few days), I followed Natalie Slater’s recipe for German’s Chocolate Cookies. I made a couple tiny changes to the recipe for two reasons: 1) I wanted them to be soy-free so that my sister could try some and 2) I was missing some ingredients.

Before I get into the recipe, I need to emphasize how great this book is. The recipes are awesome and range from breakfast to casseroles to snacks to dips and sauces. GIFT IT TO YOURSELF AND YOUR FRIENDS FOR CHRISTMAS (or just because)!

Vegan German Chocolate Cookies
adapted from Bake and Destroy

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups sugar
⅔ cup vanilla almond milk or soy milk
⅔ cup canola oil
2 tablespoons ground flax meal
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ⅓ cups rolled oats
¾ cup vegan chocolate chips
½ cup shredded coconut
½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, milk, oil, flax meal, and vanilla extract. Whisk for about 2 minutes, until the mixture thickens.

4. Stir the wet ingredients into the flour mixture until just mixed.

5. Fold in the oats, chocolate chips, coconut, and walnuts.

6. Drop by tablespoons (I used a cookie dough scooper thingy) onto the prepared baking sheets and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the edges are set up.

7. Let cool on the pans for 5 minutes, then let cool completely on the wire racks.

I was so happy with how these turned out. I may have some baking skillz after all! I got some great treats in return and will be giving kudos to my fellow food blogger cookie swappers in the coming weeks. –Melissa

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Easy Roasted Brussels Sprouts

We write about Brussels sprouts quite a bit, and it’s because they are freaking delicious! They’re definitely a winter veggie for me. I see a Brussels sprout and I think of Thanksgiving and Christmas and Sunday dinners. I’ve toyed around with several recipes, but I finally found one that I think is going to be my go-to recipe.

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Easy Roasted Brussels Sprouts
(adapted from About.com > Vegetarian food)

1 1/2 cup Brussels sprouts, cut in half
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp safflower or canola oil
1/2 tsp mustard
salt and pepper, to taste

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

Whisk together the vinegar, salt and pepper together in a small bowl. Slowly incorporate the olive oil until a dressing is formed.

Gently toss the Brussels sprouts in the dressing.

Place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle some salt on those babies if you’d like.

Bake for 20 minutes, turning once. Sprouts are done when they are lightly browned.

zOMG. These were so good! The mustard added a nice little pop of flavor that’s been missing from other recipes I’ve tried. The best thing about this is that they can easily be served with any meal, from a vegan roast to pasta to tofu to pizza! Yum. –Melissa

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Monika’s Roasted Tomato Soup

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The weather in Chicago has been crisp and cool and sometimes rainy. The leaves are changing color and we’ve started to curl up under our comforters. We are also – HORROR! – wearing socks again. It’s definitely the type of weather that makes me crave warm comfort food.

Do you know what’s more comforting than comfort food? Good friends! And good friends share awesome vegan recipes with their vegan friends. Today’s recipe was graciously shared with me by Monika, my good friend and colleague. Tomato soup is definitely a great comfort food and a great way to use up those summer tomatoes that are still lingering in your kitchen!

Monika’s Roasted Tomato Soup

8 Tomatoes
1 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp Olive Oil
1-1/2 tsp Pepper
1-1/2 tsp Salt
1-1/2 tsp Sugar
2-3 Garlic cloves finely chopped
2 tbsp Basil leaves finely chopped (fresh or dry)
1 Onion finely chopped
1.5-2 Carrots finely chopped

Stock/broth:
3 cups hot water
1.5 veggie bouillon cube

Optional:
Vinegar or lemon (if soup tastes too sweet)

Clean the tomatoes  and remove the stem.  Place in an oven safe dish and pour boiling water over the tomatoes. Keep the tomatoes in the dish for approximately 30-60 seconds. Remove from the dish and peel the skin. Cut the tomatoes in half and set aside.

Turn on the oven to 350F as you prepare the baking sheet. Place the tomato halves on  the sheet. Sprinkle tomatoes with salt, pepper, sugar, balsamic vinegar and olive oil.  Bake in the oven for 30-60 mins or until completely soft.

Melt olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onion, carrots, garlic, and basil. Cook, stirring, until golden brown, set aside.

Mix the stock, set aside.

Remove the tomatoes from the oven, set aside to cool and bring out the food processor/blender.

In a large bowl add: roasted tomatoes, onion/carrots/garlic/basil and process with blender. Add stock, and process again.

Pour the soup into a saucepan and cook over medium-low heat for 15-20 mins. Add salt, pepper as desired. If soup tastes too sweet add a splash of vinegar or lemon.

Super duper tips from Monika:

  • The more time the soup is “cooked/warmed up” the better it will taste.
  • The soup was even more tasty the next day!

I’m so grateful that Monika shared this recipe with me and gave me the chance to share it with you. I can’t wait to try this at home! –Melissa

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Bitter Melon with Tofu and Fermented Black Beans

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We were lucky enough to have pleasant weather for the first couple weeks of October, but things got downright chilly last week. Dad started cleaning up the garden and collected the last of the veggies. Bitter melon, or ampalaya, was included in the mix, and Mom cooked it up, vegan-style!

We have blogged about bitter melon before, and here’s another recipe for the adventurous among us. My mom usually makes this dish using steak or roast beef, but decided to substitute tofu instead. Yay! The tofu helped to offset some of the bitterness and the fermented black beans bring both a sweetness and saltiness to the dish.

Ampalaya (Bitter Melon) with Tofu and Fermented Black Beans

1 bitter melon
1 block tofu, pressed and cut into bite-sized cubes
1/2 cup fermented black beans (you can find these at Asian markets)
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt or soy sauce, to taste

1. Slice the bitter melon in half, lengthwise, and scoop out the innards. Then, slice the halves into about 1/4 inch pieces.

2. Heat up a pan and add your favorite vegetable oil (I like safflower or canola).

3. Throw in the onion and garlic and cook until they’re fragrant and the onion is translucent.

4. Toss in the bitter melon, lower heat, and cover. Let it cook for 2-3 minutes, checking to make sure that the bitter melon doesn’t stick.

5. Add the tofu and beans to the pot. Gently mix everything together. Allow it to cook, covered, for another 5 minutes or so.

6. Add some salt or soy sauce to taste and remove from heat.

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This dish is best served with jasmine rice or brown rice.

Yay, weird veggies! –Melissa

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Gluten-Free Vegan Pumpkin, Sundried Tomato Bread!

I’ve been working on my baking with encouragement and inspiration from Somer at VegedOut and Annie of An Unrefined Vegan. These two ladies are ace bakers and manage to survive without eggs, milk and sometimes even wheat. Pastries are a little easier since lower protein flours have a good texture for cakes and cookies, but not bread. Bread is the one thing we can’t reliably get that’s gluten-free, vegan and tasty. Usually commercially available breads fit one or two of those three criteria. Therein lies my quest.

My early attempts at gluten-free vegan bread were unreliable and didn’t always rise properly so things have come up a few notches since then.

One of the big things was getting a stand mixer with a dough hook. I can knead bread myself, but this makes mixing much more consistent. I got a cheap used $55 3.5 quart stand mixer. I’ll probably get something nicer when this one goes, but for now it’s perfect for experimenting.

The biggest issues I find with gluten-free vegan bread is that it’s usually dry, crumbly and/or dense. I’m still struggling with these issues, but things are improving slowly but surely.

My ever evolving bread recipe is currently as follows.

1 cup garbanzo flour

1 cup brown rice flour

1 cup teff flour

1/2 cup chopped sundried tomato

1/2 cup chopped nuts, sunflower seeds or pumpkin pits (shelled)

1 tsp herbes de provence

1 tsp salt

1 tsp xanthan gum

1 tsp yeast (or one packet)

1/4 cup flax meal

1 cup water, warmed slightly in the microwave

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/3 cup tinned unsweetened pumpkin

Preheat the oven to 300F/150C. I combine the dry ingredients (except for the yeast in a bowl. Mix them lightly.

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I combine the water (warmed) and dissolve the yeast in it and then put that and the rest of the wet ingredients including the pumpkin in the bowl of my trusty stand mixer and give it a quick mix on the lowest setting. Then I wait for 3-5 minutes until the yeast starts to activate and look bubbly.

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After that I start to add the dry ingredients one cup at a time until it’s all mixed and doughy. It’s usually pretty sticky but holds its form well. I plop that onto a floured baking sheet and quickly mold it into a loaf form. (I haven’t tried any other formation, but you’ll know when I do!)

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I slash the top of the loaf to allow some of the steam to escape. When I tried skipping that step I ended up with a loaf of bread that looks like it exploded in the oven. I baked this for 2 hours and then started checking every 5 minutes to see if it was cooked all the way through by checking to see if a knife inserted into the middle of the loaf came out clean.

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This bread is still a little dense, but the flavor and texture are getting there fast. We’ve been enjoying it for simple things like grilled ‘cheese’ or toast with jam or vegan cream cheese.

 

This is Christie, signing off!

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Vegan Kare Kare 2.0

I haven’t cooked in awhile (I’m a lazy vegan, remember?) but I had a serious craving for kare kare last week. I think it was triggered by seeing the beginnings of my Dad’s garden this summer, particularly the eggplant. I’m so spoiled by the garden! Alas, there are no veggies yet. Thank goodness for grocery stores.

I previously made kare kare using soy curls and it was good, but I wanted to try something different this time. I didn’t want to drop a meat substitute altogether even though all-veggie kare kare would be satisfactory. I didn’t want to use tofu. I didn’t want to use mushrooms. I didn’t want to use squash.

So I used jackfruit — young, unripe jackfruit.

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You can find canned young green jackfruit at any Asian grocery store. Make sure you get the jackfruit in brine, not syrup! It’s not to be confused with ripe yellow jackfruit, which is sweet (and delicious in halo halo… yum). I’ve seen unripe jackfruit used in savory dishes. Luminous Vegans has a great BBQ Jackfruit recipe that’s like a vegan pulled pork sandwich. My Mom adds it to dishes. There is a plethora of vegan Jackfruit ‘Carnitas’ Taco recipes on the Internet. With the shred-like texture of the jackfruit, some imagination and an open mind, the possibilities are endless.

Kare kare always seemed really complicated to me when I was younger and I realize now that it’s because of the meat component. You need to boil the oxtail. Sometimes, you need to boil it forever or use a pressure cooker, otherwise it won’t get tender and it’s just nasty. You need to skim out the garbage that shows up when you boil meat. And it takes a long time!

For vegan kare kare, you’re looking at maybe 15 minutes of prep time and 15 minutes of cook time.

Vegan Kare Kare with Jackfruit

1 can young green jackfruit in brine, drained and rinsed
1/2 onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
eggplant, cut into 2″ chunks (enough to make approx 2 cups, any eggplant will do)
1 cup sitaw (Chinese long beans), cut into about 2 inch pieces — regular green beans are fine, too
bok choy (3 babies or 1 adult)
2-3 tbsp peanut butter
1/2 tsp achiote powder (optional)
oil
salt, to taste

Rinse and chop up all your veggies. for the jackfruit, I cut the chunks that came out of the can in half or in thirds, depending on how big they were. I made them about the same size as the eggplant pieces.

Heat up the pan and saute the onion and garlic in oil. When it gets fragrant, add the jackfruit, eggplant, and 1 cup of water. Mix it a bit, cover, and let it cook for about 5 minutes. Add the sitaw/beans and bok choy, cover, and let it all cook for another 3-5 minutes.

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Isn’t it pretty? The thing in the bottom middle is a piece of jackfruit.

When the veggies are just about cooked, stir things up a bit, being careful not to mash up any of the veggies. Then, make a well in the center of the pot and put in the peanut butter. The PB should melt completely. Add salt to taste. Add achiote if you want. It will give the dish a more reddish color. I didn’t add it this time around.

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Serve with white rice and bagoong (not vegan!) or a bagoong substitute. If you have the green-floral-border Corelle plates that every Filipino-American seems to have, use that for sentimental value. Follow it up with some halo halo with sweet jackfruit if you can. I’m so hungry now.

I’m pleased with my kare kare and jackfruit experiment, but I have to say that I think jackfruit would work better in sinigang (another Filipino dish) instead. I have yet to try it as BBQ or in a taco. Looks like I’ve got a lot of cooking to do! –Melissa

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Buffalo Cauliflower!

It was a holiday weekend and something decadent and reminiscent of junk food was an order. Most people are BBQ and Buffalo wings. We had Buffalo cauliflower. You’ll need the following:
1 head of cauliflower, chopped into bite sized pieces
1 cup of flour (we used garbanzo bean flour)
4 tbsp onion powder
1 pinch paprika
1 pinch garlic salt
1 cup of almond milk (you can use soy if you’ve got a nut allergy)
1 1/2 cups of your favorite vegan Buffalo sauce
corn oil spray
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For the batter, combine the flour, milk, garlic salt, paprika and onion powder and mix well. Coat all the cauliflower with batter and place it into a lightly oiled glass baking dish. Cover it with a baking sheet so the cauliflower won’t touch the cover.

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Bake at 450F/230C for 20 minutes. Remove the lid, toss the cauliflower, spraying lightly with corn oil and bake for 5 more minutes. Now toss to coat it with Buffalo sauce and bake for 10 more minutes. Watch it closely in case it starts to blacken around the edges.

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This is a much lower calorie alternative to Buffalo wings and it’s great with vegan sour cream (or the creamy cilantro lime sauce we make) and celery. If you get to try it, let me know what you think!

This is Christie, signing off!

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Vegan Pasta Bake

This was an uncharacteristically un-lazy dish for me to make. It turned out pretty good considering that I was winging it from start to finish.

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You may not be able to easily make out the veggies in the bake from the photo above, but I assure you that they’re there. The veggies used can vary, depending on what you have in your fridge or what you’re simply in the mood to eat. I went with zucchini and carrots. Everything from the pasta to the sauce to the ‘cheese’ that you use can be varied. Below are the ingredients that I used.

Vegan Pasta Bake

8oz penne pasta
2 cans tomato sauce (you can use 1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce)
1 block firm tofu, pressed and crumbled
1 pack Teese mozzarella vegan cheese
1 zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
1 carrot, julienned
1 medium onion, minced
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp Italian herbs
salt and pepper

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While the water for the pasta was boiling and the oven was preheating to 350 degrees, I mixed my tofu crumbles with the spices and olive oil, and cut up the veggies, onion, and garlic.

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After the pasta was cooked and drained, I started placing the ingredients in a casserole dish. I tried to do it in layers: pasta, onions and garlic, tofu, veggies, teese. After all the veggies and pasta were in the dish, I poured the sauce over everything. I should have layered in the sauce as well. Duh. But it still turned out okay, so, yay!

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I was only about 95% happy with how this turned out, but I learned a lot of lessons making it. I hope to try it again with other veggies like spinach, mushrooms, broccoli, squash… and I’ll plan to have more veggies than pasta in it next time. –Melissa

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Raw Tofu & Avocado Salad

It’s 2013 and time for me to get excited about food again — in a healthy, vegan way. This easy-to-make raw salad is a good start!

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My food preparation philosophy is pretty solid. As much as I aspire to be a more creative and fancy cook, I want things to be simple, to use as few ingredients as possible, and find several ways to prepare meals using items that I always have in my kitchen and pantry. I also don’t want to spend a lot of time preparing food. Thus, this recipe is a classic “Melissa” recipe. I didn’t even come up with it myself. It’s based on this recipe.

Raw Tofu & Avocado Salad

1 block extra firm tofu, pressed and drained and then cubed
juice of half a lemon
1 tbsp Bragg Liquid Aminos — my first time using this in my own cooking!
1/4 tsp sesame oil
1 avocado, peeled and cubed
scallions
fresh cilantro
sesame seeds

I placed the cubed tofu in a bowl. I added the lemon, Bragg Liquid Aminos, and sesame oil, and then mixed it very gently to coat all the cubes. I set the bowl aside and then prepared the avocado. I added the avocado to the bowl with the tofu but I didn’t mix it in. I topped everything with scallions, cilantro, and sesame seeds. I also sprinkled some freshly ground black pepper onto everything.

I was a little skeptical, but everything melded together really well! There was the tartness of the lemony tofu mixed with the creamy avocado, and then final fresh kick from the scallions and cilantro. I experimented a bit by eating it in a whole wheat pita:

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The pita unfortunately muted the flavors too much for my taste, but the rest of the giant pita was great to munch on in between bites of the salad.

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Easy, quick, versatile, and no cooking necessary: a classic Melissa recipe, indeed! –Melissa

 

 

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Super Easy Rice and Veggie Soup

In lieu of being sick and not wanting to cook, nor eat anything complicated, Christie devised a method of making single-serving soup that is souper easy to make!

See what I did there?

What you need are :
Vegan Bouillon
Instant Rice
Frozen Veggies
Water
Microwave

Put the instant rice and frozen veggies in your bowl, add the bouillon and fill with water. Microwave for about two minutes, stir, and heat again for two minutes.

Watch as I fix it for my sick self.

It seems like a ‘no, duh’ recipe as I write it out, but really it’s a solid recipe to have in ones repertoire. For when you feel sick, or lazy, this soup can have you fed — gluten and cruelty free — in about five minutes.

Hope you all are having a happy and healthy new year!

Peace out, my vegans.

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