Ginger limeade

I made this on Easter Sunday to have "drinks" with friends (b/c I was still suffering from cocktails with friends on Friday night). It's your basic lemonade/ limeade with a load of ginger for a kick/ healthy boost.

- 1 cup sugar
- 6 cups water
- 4-5 limes
- 2 lemons
- about 4-5" of ginger, peeled and chopped

Dissolve the sugar in 1 cup of the water over medium heat in a saucepan, set aside to cool. Juice the lemons and limes, you should have about 1 1/2 cups of juice. Blend the juice with the ginger, strain into your pitcher. Add the simple syrup (sugar water) and the other 5 cups of water. The brilliant part of this, is that all components can be adjusted to taste- add more ginger for kick, limes for tart or sugar for sweet- the stuff is goood (and won't give you a hangover- as long as you don't add booze!)

Banana Blueberry Muffins

These are "Wolfie's Banana Blueberry Muffins" from La Dolce Vegan. A book that has fallen out of fashion in the J-R household a bit since I discovered RFD and Candle 79 type books. But, La Dolce does have some great go-to rather quick recipes, and I had one lonely banana on it's way out of the world, so... I gave this a shot.

These are really very good. They have some odd ingredients in them- ground ginger and molasses- but that really compliments the banana, and even though this has one banana in it vs three in our other go-to nana muffin recipe (HERE), the banana flavor really pops. Which kind of leaves you wondering why there are blueberries involved. The berries are a kind of nice tart element, but walnuts or something would make way more sense in here. Still, it's good, so whatevs!

Roasted Tomato Jalapeño Salsa

I was going for Frontera's Roasted Tomato/ Jalapeño Salsa here. This didn't come close at all, but is still a solid salsa, so I shall share:

1 lb tomatoes (mine were on the vine)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 lg jalapeño pepper, chopped fine
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can tomato paste
1 cup broth (I used Better than Bouillon no chicken flavor)
1t salt
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 lg lime, juiced

Heat oven to 350, roast tomatoes for 1/2 hour turning once or twice. I broiled them for a few minutes after to blacken them. Sautée onions until tender, add garlic and jalapeño and sautée for a few more minutes. Chop roasted tomatoes and discard cores. Add tomatoes to onion mix with paste, broth and salt. Simmer at least 1/2 hour. Add cilantro and blend. Stir in lime juice and serve.

*Here's my notes for next time: Though this salsa is super good (better the next day too after flavors have had a chance to get married), It wasn't as blackened and roasted as I was hoping for. I think that next time, I shall roast the onions, Jalapeños and garlic as well and really char the bejeezus out of everything. Also, I didn't leave the jalapeño seeds in, next time they stay to spice things up, as well as probably using 2 vs 1 to up that flavor in the salsa.

Braised Cabbage and Seitan

Man, why have I waited until I was 36 to learn how to braise food?! It is my new favorite thing- the flavor that braising adds to veg is just over the moon. This was a delicious dish! I also really don't use cabbage in much of anything besides spring rolls or stir fries- but this was fantastic and made me wonder why we don't eat it more often.

I used RFD's "chicken style" seitan for this (just realized that "seitan" is an e before i word- like "weird"). Anyway, it's a really simple dish and since it was from Appetite for Reduction, was super low calorie too- which made me feel better about overeating because it tasted so great.

The seitan was cooked first to establish a crust that would keep the braising later from making it soggy. I have to say, though, I'd probably sautée the seitan next time and remove it from the pan before braising the cabbage- then add it back in at the last minute. The recipe has the seitan in the pan when the cabbage is braising, which adds a good flavor to the seitan, but does make it a bit floppy. Anyway, the whole thing was super delicious, very weeknight simple (other than making the seitan), and it also held up the next day, which I found shocking. I fully expected the cabbage to be too wilty, but it was still great. Also, the night that I made it (this is a left over pic), I baked potatoes as she recommends in the book. The braising broth poured over the potato was amazing! Also, it's great that we didn't need a load of vegan butter because of the broth as well (since the aim was a low-cal meal). Four stars- I highly recommend it.

Naan Pizza

This is a fast, fast weeknight dinner, and is cheat cooking (jarred sauce and pre-made naan), but it really makes for a tasty, good meal. This is my take on the Naan Pizzas at "Cowboys and Turbans"- the Indian/ Mexican fusion place on the east side (that looks like it may be closed now, but...?) It's a place as weird as their name, but the food is really good. They have these Masala fries that are ridiculously good, as well as these Naan Pizzas, which is essentially an Indian dish piled on top of naan (like a pizza!)

The recipe requires that you're near a Trader Joe's too- as their masala sauce is awesome!

- 4-6 pieces naan (TJ's has it frozen, but that's not vegan- it's kind of hard to find vegan naan, but possible if you hunt for it)
- 1 large bag spinach, stems removed
- 1 brick tofu (TJ's shrink wrapped organic super firm is great for this), cubed small
- 1-2 jars of TJ's jarred Masala sauce (we use about 1 1/2 usually)
- 1 cup peas
-1-2T canola oil

(Preheat the oven if your naan requires baking) Heat the oil in a large sautée (or sauce) pan, add the tofu and cook until slightly golden brown, add sauce and peas to the tofu, cook until peas are cooked through. Throw your naan in the oven. Add spinach by the fist fulls until it wilts down, add more, etc until you've added the whole bag.

Now, I'm not a dunker with cookies and I don't like soggy food, so my preference is to cook the naan a bit crunchier than usual, and pile the spinach/ tofu masala mix on top just before eating. I wouldn't assemble and wait at all before diving in or your naan will get soggy. I also recommend a fork and knife vs pizza slice-style eating unless you happen to be wearing a rain poncho.

Stuffed Acorn Squash

This is a catch-up post, I made this in fall and never talked about it. It really is more of a fall dish. It would be great as a starter or side at a huge Thanksgiving or holiday meal, especially if you could find small little acorn squashes. I made it as an entrée, and although it's incredibly flavorful and delicious (not to mention super healthy with all that veg inside it), it was just too much veg and needed something else with it to balance it out (Tofurkey, perhaps!)

It's from the RFD original book, and was a bit of a time investment, but not quite as bad as most recipes in that book, but just as amazing and delicious. If you're in to vegetables for dinner, try it- otherwise, I'd say to save it for an impressive side dish at a huge meal.

Stuffed Poblano Peppers

This is the Stuffed Poblano Peppers from Candle 79's cookbook with the Sautéed Swiss Chard and the Roasted Red Bell Pepper and Tomato Sauce.

The sauce was fantastic. I love how roasting the veg deepens the flavor so much. The dish on the whole (all 3 parts together) was really very good- which is great b/c it was another one of those huge time investments- so I'm glad that there was a payoff. There was just so much to it- roasting veg for the sauce, charring the poblanos to remove the skin, rice making, chard sauteeing...

On the whole, though, I thought that it needed a beefier element. This is weird for a vegan to say, but some dishes that are just 100% veg (curries and stir fries aside) just need more variety to me. This is why most of the world eats them as a side, I guess- but maybe even some black beans in the pepper would have done the trick. It tasted great, it just needed a protein element, I guess. It was good, though.

Silly Easy Salty Peanut Bark

This is so silly easy, it's hardly worth posting, but it's become our go-to snack dessert, so I thought I would put it up anyway. If you like the whole salt/ sweet thing- this is for you. It's kind of like a salty, upscale Mr Goodbar.

1 c roasted, salted peanuts
1.5 c vegan chocolate chips (dark or semisweet)
sea salt

Line a 9x12 pan with wax paper. Melt chips in a double broiler and whisk until smooth. Spread peanuts out over bottom of pan on wax paper. Spoon melted chocolate over the peanuts, smoothing out with a spatula and ensuring that all nuts are covered. Grind or sprinkle sea salt liberally over the smoothed out bark (depending on your taste- but it takes a nice smattering to have it come through). Freeze or refrigerate (depending on how anxious you are to eat) until the bark is completely hardened. Break up bark into bite or bar sized bits and eat that stuff up!

Red Curry- HUZZAH!

I re-did it, and... It. Is. Perfect. (if I do say so myself). I should start by saying that I'm actually not a huge Thai curry fan. For one, I know that every spoonful has about 400 calories. Also, they're generally too coconut-milk-soupy-creamy for my taste. So, this recipe has 2 cans of coconut milk, but it ends up being the amount of a nice sauce versus a soupy curry, which is what it usually looks like when Davey orders it at restaurants.

In L.A., there is a massive proliferation of Vegan Thai restaurants. Literally it seems that every strip mall has one. Our favorites are Bulan in Silverlake (they have a second location in Hollywood), and now the brand new EA Station on Ventura in the stinking valley where we live now (and have a fantastic apartment- I'm not complaining). All of these places have the same faux meat. Though I've become accustomed to making my own marinated tempeh, tofu, seitan, etc- it is nice to buy an easy pre-made faux meat once in awhile. This Taiwanese brand, though, is not at any normal grocery or health food store. It always made me a bit nervous at restaurants to not know where the fake chicken drumsticks on wood dowels came from, but you do have to relinquish control a bit to act like a normal person and eat out. Enter a weirdo vitamin/ health food store by my house called, "Healthy Vitamin" (?!)- this place actually sells the crazy Thai fake meat that is served at restaurants here. Ergo, I can buy the veggie peppersteak that they probably use at Bulan in the Panang Curry (yay!). I do have to warn strict vegans, that this stuff lists "whey" in the ingredients, so it is not vegan. I am a bit of a crap vegan, though, and for the right product will look the other way at whey or a bit of honey buried in an ingredient list of a food that I love (I know, hypocrisy). I just look at it like this- I do my best to live in line with my beliefs 99% of the time, I think that's doing alright. Anyway, the curry would be great with tofu as well, so if you're a better vegan than me, feel free to go that route.

I do think that I utterly nailed the Panang Curry from Bulan- this is creamy, a hint spicy, the veg comes through... it was fantastic, and I'm totally making it again (and again, and again!)

Red Curry:

½ onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 green bell, chopped
1 red bell, chopped
5-7 good sized basil leaves, chiffonier sliced
1 c peas
3 carrots, coined
2 bags thai pepper steak (or one extra firm tofu to be vegan)
1-2” ginger, grated
2 cans coconut milk
½ jar red curry paste
½ t harrissa
½ c water
1 lime (juiced)
1t lemongrass (tube- fresh would be a bit more minced)
1 c rice for serving

Sautee onion and carrots until onions are near translucent. Add the bell peppers, garlic, ginger and lemongrass, and cook until they’re getting tender. Mix the paste into some of the coconut milk to dissolve and add all coconut milk and the paste/ milk mixture.

Sautee peppersteak or tofu until it’s seared a bit on the outside.

Add peppersteak or tofu, lime juice and peas to curry and veg. Taste and adjust (more paste, more lime, etc). Cook until just about done and then add the basil. Cook until basil is wilted, serve over rice.

Red Curry- BLURG!

This is why I do this blog- as a record of the hits and misses of all of these cooking trials. And yet, I f'ed up. This pic is a delicious, amazing red curry that I made from scratch months ago. It was a bit of an ordeal because I had used a chili powder that I bought at India Sweets and Spice that turned out not to be a mild chili powder blend (like the recipe needed), but full on Cayenne style powdered hot chili. So, it was almost too spicy to consume since there was like 2T of this fire pepper powder in it. We even drained it of the sauce to make it edible. So, I guess in that sense it was a bit of a fail, but it had great flavor and I was sold on the recipe (only with using the correct chili powder). Yet I did not blog about it, so I have no idea where I got the recipe! I've dug around the computer and can't find it, google searched to no avail, etc.

I wanted to make it this week, but I guess I'm starting over from square one.


Italian Vegan Sausage Ravioli with Fresh Pasta and Mama Sauce

I have to apologize for the pic- the lighting makes the food look like hell. Which is tragic, because this is one of the best eyes-rolling-back-into-my-head meals that I've made in awhile. It was for my Valentine, so it was a bit more all-out than ... who am I kidding, I'm always cooking all out :)

So- for starts, I made the Italian Sausage from Vegan Brunch. You'll recall that her Chorizo is amazing from the same book, and this is equally so. I had actually made these before and we ate them on buns and they were kind of meh (nothing fantastically exceptional). But pairing these with the pasta sauce turns out to be the trick. Literally, Davey and I were taking sausage slices and just dunking them into the sauce ala chips and dip and it was amazing! For the ravioli filling, I minced the sausage and we just went with it alone. It would be great with cheese too, but I'm not wild about vegan cheeses, so for us, the sausage plain was great.

I then made the pasta dough. I got the recipe online HERE. It was good. I am a bit of a pasta making amateur. We did it a few times in Chicago years ago when we first got our handy Kitchenaid pasta attachments for the stand mixer, but we used egg in those days. This was a really stiff dough that was a bit hard to work with at first, but it turned out alright. It was also pretty heavy, I think that had to do with thickness, but, it was fine. I did find the most fantastic trick for ravioli making, though! I looked up how to seal them up without egg online and found a fella who did the following; you lay the dough down over a mini muffin tin loosely, push the dough down gently into the muffin cups, fill the divots with your filling, top with another dough sheet, roll over the whole thing with a rolling pin (which seals and gets bubbles out), flip the whole thing over, cut your squares out, and voila! It was so flipping easy, and such a great trick. I highly recommend that (versus laying the stuffing on top, then sealing- which I remember to be a bit of a pain).

The ravioli just gets boiled like normal and that bit is done. Meanwhile, I was simmering mama sauce all day. I'm posting my recipe below, which, like chili, gets altered depending on what's in the house. On Valentines, I used about 1/4 c of fresh herbs (oregano, sage and rosemary), then added dried thyme, oregano, marjoram and such. That was absolutely delicious, but this is too. The key, I think, is to simmer for 4+ hours and also to go with what the sauce is doing. It never seems identical to me, throughout the day, I taste and add sugar if it's too acidic, oregano and pepper if it's too bright, etc. Go with what tastes good for you. But, by all means, make that sausage with it because, holy amazing!

Mama’s Sauce

1 roma or small tomato
2 28 oz can tomato sauce
1 lil (8oz?) can tomato paste
1 small palm full (2T or so) dried basil
1 small palm full dried parsley
¾ onion
6 cloves garlic
1 ½- 2 cups veg stock
3 T dried oregano
1 T ground sage
½ t thyme
shake-a shake-a cayenne pepper
2 bay leaves
1 t sea salt
1 t ground black pepper
2-3T sugar

Sauteé onions until translucent, add garlic, sauteé a bit more, add basil (or save for the last hour- if it's fresh, I wait, but I've added dry at the start) and parsley, add 1 28 oz can of tomato sauce, paste, broth and all spices- no sugar.

Mix well, bring to a rapid simmer, turn heat down to low, simmer- stirring somewhat often for about 4-5 hours, tasting and adjusting every hour or so. Add sugar if it’s too acidic. Blend with an immersion blender, add 28 oz can of sauce, mix well, heat until warmed again, stir and serve.

Quinoa Chickpea Burger and Oven Fries

This is the Quinoa Burger from the book Vegan Diner. It was really quick and easy to make, held together really well for a veggie burger (they tend to have coagulation issues), and tasted great. I was looking for something similar to the Quinoa burger at Flore (always trying to replicate Flore's recipes, especially now that we live a good 15 miles from them). They were primarily made of the quinoa, chickpeas, oats and some seasonings. Nutritionally, I'm sure that they're good, but there was something so great about the RFD ones that have loads of veg in them. But it's really apples and oranges (quinoa and beets). The Rfd ones evoke a more traditional burger (the color, texture, flavor, etc)- these are a lighter (in flavor and color), squishier alt burger. Both are good, though. I would still like to find a morningstar farms-esque burger recipe that would hold up to grilling and such with more of a faux burger flavor- but those were probably made in a lab, so I may never get there.

Also, though there's not a lot of recipe to oven fries, I had to include these. I had made them a few times before both with russett and sweet potatoes, and this time I hit on the way to a good fry. My previous attempts never got crispy enough to satisfy a fry craving, but these were perfect. I minced parsley ala Cafe Stella in Silverlake (great addition), cut them very thin, tossed them in 1-2T of olive oil, then baked them on a spray greased foil lined pan for 25 minutes at 425 (stirring a few times). This delivered a true, crispy, awesome, way healthier than deep fried fry. I am pleased and will probably consume them far more often now (not necessarily a good thing :)

Also, I should out myself on this book- since we're working out a lot these days, I didn't want to commit to a diner/ comfort food book in the house as I was afraid I'd make too much bad for us food. This was one of the times that I went, "oh yeah, library!" Which was great, I had it for a few weeks, tried out a couple recipes and will probably go ahead and buy it anyway. It did make me realize that this is a smart route for cookbooks since there are duds out there that are filled with recipes that clearly aren't thoroughly tested (not naming names, they know who they are). Thought I'd pass that on in case you're like me and keep forgetting that the library exists and is full of awesome!

Soffrito Seared Seitan

Oh my, this is good! This is from the Candle 79 book and is to die for. The sauce is prepared with a load of great, fresh, raw ingredients (except for the roasted tomatoes). You marinade the seitan in the sauce for 4 hours and then take it out, pan sear it, add the sauce back in to heat it up. It is fantastic. It would be a great summer meal because except for the tomato roasting at the beginning, the cooking is minimal- and it has a really light, fresh flavor to it which would be excellent on a hot day.

They recommend serving on rice with avocado on the side which adds to the aforementioned light, fresh aspect. The sauce almost tastes like pico de gallo. There's tomatoes, garlic, onion and cilantro- which I think is where that fresh salsa idea comes from, but there's also red bell peppers, parsley and some other stuff that hints more at a meal sauce. Anyway, we loved it and I do think that this will become a staple meal. Minus the marinade time, I think it's an hour of cooking tops (oh, also minus the seitan making time too, but still!) It's an excellent dish!

Apple Rosemary Scones and the L.A. Food Swap

I made these Apple Rosemary Scones for my first foray into the Food Swapping world. Last night's swap was hosted by Reform School, who I sell my work through (see HERE) , which is how I found out about it. Turns out that I'm a bit late to the party, as this was their one year anniversary. It's a fantastic idea and was truly a lot of fun.

For those who don't know, the swap is a gathering of peoples who bring food that they've made, grown or foraged. You bring as little or as much as you like. There were; jams, pickled goods, chocolates, cupcakes, granola, nut milks, simple syrups, limoncello, herbs, citrus fruits, etc. I made 3 dozen Rosemary Apple Scones (I'll review the recipe in a sec) and had 4 bags of cherry granola as well. I made two batches of my Hybrid Granola, which made a disappointing amount. But, it turns out that granola wasn't too big of a hit with that crowd, so it was for the best.

The first 1/2 hour of the event was set up time. Everyone set out their offerings and samples (samples are the key!). The second 1/2 hour was mingle and tasting time where you walked around and ate peoples food and bid on it if you wanted to trade your stuff for theirs. Then the swapping commenced. I was shocked at what a smooth operation it was, it all went down in an hour and a half. My scones were a hit (yay), and I scored some serious awesomeness (see photo); Fresh herbs, grapefruits, oranges, a kick ask hot paste, more jam than I'll eat in a year, some chocolates and more. I'm not a haggler, but luckily there wasn't a lot of that. I did feel like a heel turning down swaps of dairy food- but they're very kind and assure everyone at the start not to feel bad about that stuff. I also was refused some simple syrup (which was amazing!) b/c the maker didn't eat grains (which I can't fathom, but a lot of people can't fathom being vegan either, so...)

As for the scones- the recipe is fantastic! I used a bit less rosemary than it called for because I simply didn't have enough. I loved the flavor, though, so I would go forward using less in the future (a bit over 1/8 cup where the recipe calls for 1/4). I also used Earth Balance in lieu of shortening, because I realized that my shortening is hydrogenated and I didn't want to inflict that on my swapmates. These are by far my fave scones ever, though- despite how much I loved the others in the book!

If you're in L.A. and so inclined, the swap organizer's Facebook page is HERE. I know that the idea isn't unique to here, though- so if you're elsewhere, you may want to google around to see if there's one near you. I loved the experience and will totally do it again!

THE Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe

I really need a new apartment with better lighting.

Anyway, these are from the book Vegan Diner and are IT. THE Chocolate Chip cookie recipe!!! I have tried quite a few veganized versions of chocolate chip cookies, but these. are. the ones.

They stay a bit chewy, even after cooling, but are so flavorful and amazingly classic-everything-you-remember-in-a-cookie amazing that we each ate about 4 the night that I made them. Which... may not be the best cookie to have in the house!


This is a mushroom stroganoff from the Native Foods cookbook. This is another new book for me, but after trying the Moon Dahl recipe online, as well as eating at the restaurant- I was sold on getting the book.

Despite resembling wet cat food, this is a really tasty dish! The flavor really reminded us of Isa Chandra's mushroom gravy (which I also realize I never photo'd- that is really good too- it's in Vegan brunch and makes for a great biscuits and gravy!) I also added asparagus to the mix since I am a huge fan of asparagus with mushroom sauces. It worked out great- it's a bit too intense to eat regularly, but once in a while would be amazing.

Smoked Paprika Hummus

Huzzah! This is from Candle 79's book. It is intensely flavored! I was a bit skeptical about using smoked paprika, a spice I've only used in faux sausage, in hummus. But, there's a lot going on in there; cayenne, tahini, lemon juice, etc- and it all makes for a really super intense hummus. Which I think is great! There are times that I want a more neutral hummus, but all and all to get a huge bang out of a quick snack- this is amazing. It's not any more complex than normal hummus but tastes far more complex. It would be great for a party since it makes a boat load- or next time I shall halve the recipe to make it a more reasonable amount!

Szechuan Peanut Noodles

This is from Vegan Family Meals. It was... okay. I think that a wider, fatter noodle would work better (rice, perhaps?) The veg was listed as optional in the recipe- I think it's mandatory- the noodles and sauce alone would be rather grodie, it really needs the vegetable textures and flavors to break up the peanut overload.

It was kinda meh. I have to say, I really prefer the RFD book to this one, and if I didn't know better, I would never peg this food as being made by the same chef that made the RFD recipes. But, that book is so stellar that I would never say anything disparaging about her food!

Arancini w/ Roasted Tomato Sauce

This is an appetizer from the Candle 79 book. It was pretty darn good. Quite a lot of effort for an appetizer at home, but good. I had read it over and deemed it worthy of being an entree- but it turns out that they were right. It would have been far better as a starter.

Their sauce was a great lesson in simplicity though. Turns out that I have never written about my mama sauce recipe. I'll have to photo it and post it next time I make it. My childhood BFF is Italian. She refuses to eat any other red sauce besides her mom's. This is rather stereotypical (the whole "my mom's sauce is the best" thing)- but I've had Lucia's sauce. It is the best. My recipe is an amalgam of hers and RFD's, and involves a minimum of 6 hours of cooking. One time that I made it, I was tasting it throughout the day and found a significant shift between hours 5 and 6. At 5 it was a really good sauce, at 6- the flavors melded in a way that really dialed it to 11. And, Lucy had said that 8 hours simmer is ideal, so I'm going to listen to her.

Having said all that- this is a sauce that only takes about an hour. They get away with it because the only spices in it are fresh basil, salt and pepper. The key to boosting the flavor is roasting the tomatoes. I was extremely skeptical- being a mama sauce convert and all, but this is a really nice, fresh, light sauce that worked great with this dish and would be amazing with a really hearty ravioli. So, I shall keep it in my pocket for such occasions.

The balls themselves were good too. For one, they incited endless crass jokes and giggles from me and Davey (3rd grade humor). Also, they were tasty. They were a bit labor intensive for an appetizer, but would really be impressive at a dinner party. They are basically Italian rice that is supposed to be stuffed with tempeh and vegan cheese, then breaded and pan fried. All went well except that the rice mix wasn't firm enough to hold it's shape when I stuffed it so I mixed the filling into the rice and then rolled them up and breaded and fried them. This actually worked out well- I think that getting tempeh in most bites worked out best- it could even have used about double the tempeh to make me happy.

All in all- very tasty!