Monday, December 29, 2014

Momma's Baking Powder Biscuits Veganized

As a kid I can always remember my Mother making soup; all kinds of soup.  For her it was filling and cheap, but for me and my brother it was delicious.  

When she wasn't making homemade bread to go with the soup she was making a batch of baking powder biscuits.  Any leftover biscuits would then be topped with peanut butter and homemade jam and eaten as a snack the next day.

When I left graduated high school and left home back in the late 80's I copied her recipe down on a small 3x5 index card.  While the card is now stained and dog eared, I still take it out and make biscuits every once in a while when the soup I am making just calls for it.

This is her recipe that I have adapted to vegan. 


2 cups Unbleached White Flour
3 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 cup vegan Shortening or Margarine
3/4 to 1 cup Non-Dairy Milk  ( I used unsweetened soy)


1.  Preheat oven to 450˚F (232˚C)

2.  In large bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt.  Stir well to combine.

3.  Cut in shortening or margarine with a pastry blender until pieces of margarine are small - the size of peas.

4.  Stir in 3/4 to 1 cup of non-dairy milk,  just until it will hold together.  Turn onto floured surface and knead 10 times.

5.  Let rest 10 minutes with the mixing bowl covering it.

6.  Pat dough until it is 3/4 to 1 inch thick.  Cut into rounds with a circular cutter.  I usually just use a drinking glass.  Fold any scraps and re-pat out.  Continue until the dough is used.

7.  Place rounds of dough on greased baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes until risen and golden brown.  Place on wire rack to cool or serve immediately.  Makes 6 or so biscuits depending on thickness and width.

They are fluffy and break apart well for buttering and dipping in soup and stew. If you want to be adventurous you can add a little shredded vegan cheese and herbs to the flour mixture before stirring in the non-dairy milk.

(Biscuits pictures with my Lentil and Portobello Stew)
- Bon Appetit

" Nostalgia is a file that removes the rough edges from the good old days." - Doug Larson

Monday, December 22, 2014

Spicy Winter Soup

I like to make this soup when it is rainy or cold outside.  The spices have a tendency to warm you from the inside out.

While I use one chipotle pepper in adobo for the recipe, feel free to use more or less.  I can tell you that 2 makes for a really spicy soup, almost too spicy.  It just depends on your tastes.  When buying cans of fire roasted tomatoes I always choose the no salt added ones.  If you can't find the no salt added cans, you may want to cut down on the bouillon so the soup is not too salty.

It makes quite a large pot.  Enough for a large family dinner or a few dinners and lunches.  It is good served with tortilla chips or cornmeal muffins.


2 Carrots, sliced
1 cup chopped Celery
1 Onion, peeled and diced
1 Green Pepper, cored and diced
4 cloves Garlic, peeled and minced
4 cups Water with 3 tsp 'No Chicken' Bouillon  
   or Vegetable Bouillon
1 - 25 oz can Black Beans, drained and rinsed 
   (or two 15 oz cans)
2 - 15 oz cans Fire Roasted Tomatoes
1-1/2 cups frozen Corn Kernels
1 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Chili Powder
1 tsp Italian Seasoning
2 Bay Leaves


1.  In large soup pot add a 1/4 cup of water and saute the chopped carrots, celery, onion, green pepper, and garlic a few minutes until soft.

2.  In large measuring cup, mix the 4 cups water with the vegetable or no chicken bouillon until the bouillon is dissolved.

3.  To the sauteed vegetables add the no chicken or veggie stock, black beans, canned tomatoes, frozen corn, cumin, chili powder, chili in adobo, Italian seasoning, and bay leaves.

4.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook for 30-45 minutes until the soup thickens, the flavors have mingled and the veggies are completely cooked.  Stir occasionally to monitor thickness.  

5.  Serve with tortilla chips, cornmeal muffins, or biscuits.  If you've made it a little too spicy you can top the bowls with a little vegan sour cream to cut the heat or add in extra tomatoes.

Bon Appetit

"  Chipotles, which are dried jalapeno peppers, give out a terrific smoky flavor - they're warm, earthy and usually not too spicy." - Yotam Ottolenghi

Monday, December 8, 2014

My Favorite Gingersnap Cookies - Vegan

I found the regular version of this recipe way back in the late 80's when I purchased a Company's Coming Cookie cookbook in British Columbia.  This is only gingersnap recipe I've ever made since I first tried it all those years ago.

Of course being vegan for over three years I have done a few modifications.  If you are not vegan then go ahead and use regular butter or margarine and 1 regular egg in place of the vegan flax egg and margarine.

The smell when they are baking is divine, and the raw cookie dough isn't bad either.  While I use organic unsulphured blackstrap molasses, I am sure you could use another kind of molasses but the cookies wouldn't be as rich.  This cookie is not a health food, but I'd like to think the health benefits of molasses at least make up for it a bit.

My batch of cookies made 59 individual cookies so the calories of each one can't be too bad, can they?

One thing to watch out for is over baking.  Cook just until the outsides are set and the centers will be chewy when cool.  Sometimes one more minute makes the difference between a crispy 'dunk in your tea' cookie and a chewy centered one.  Experiment with the first baking sheet as your oven may be different from mine.


3/4 cup vegan Margarine (I used Earth Balance Soy Free sticks)
1 cup Evaporated Cane Juice (sugar, not too coarse)
1 Flax Egg (1 Tbsp ground flax seed + 3 Tbsp warm water)
1/2 cup unsulphured Blackstrap Molasses
2-1/2 cups unbleached organic Flour
2 tsp Baking soda
2 tsp powdered/ground Ginger
1 tsp ground Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Salt
  * 1/4 cup Sugar placed in a small bowl or Ziploc bag for coating cookies


1.  Preheat oven to 350˚F (176˚C).  Spray your baking sheets with non-stick spray.

2.  In a large mixing bowl (a stand mixer such as KitchenAid is preferred) cream margarine and sugar together.  Add flax egg and beat again.  Add molasses and beat once more.

3.  In separate bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, and salt.

4.  By the spoonful add the flour mixture to the molasses mixture.  Stop the mixer to scrape sides a few times.

(Dough ready for shaping)
5.  Shape dough into 1 inch balls and roll in the extra sugar to coat.  Use a little flour on your hands if you find the dough sticking to them when shaping into balls.  

(Coating the dough with sugar)
6.  Place cookies on the greased baking sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes. I baked mine for 11 minutes and they were a tad too crispy. I recommend one baking sheet in the oven at a time.

(Ready for baking)
7.  Remove from oven and let cool for a minute or two on the baking sheets before removing to a wire rack. Using a metal spatula to remove the cookies is recommended as a silicone or plastic one can be too thick.

(Get in my belly)

Bon Appetit

" I think cookies are sort of the unsung sweet, you know?  They're incredibly popular. But everybody thinks of cakes and pies and fancier desserts before they think cookies.  A plate of cookies is a great way to end dinner and really nice to share at the holidays." - Chef Bobby Flay

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Mediterranean Couscous Salad - Vegan

This salad is perfect for a potluck, picnic, or just for every day eating.

It is adapted from a recipe I found about 10 years ago on  You can also make it using quinoa instead of couscous, but I prefer the light and fluffy aspect of the couscous.

If you are non-vegan it is also good with feta crumbled in.  You can also serve it with grilled tofu, tempeh, or another protein for a heartier meal.


2 Cups uncooked Couscous
2 Cups Water
3 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tbsp minced Garlic
6 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1 14oz can Chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
1/2 Long-English Cucumber, chopped (or 1 regular peeled and chopped)
1 Red or Green Pepper, chopped
1/2 Red Onion, minced
1/2 Cup fresh Basil, coarse chopped
1 Cup Cherry or Grape Tomatoes, halved
1/2 Cup Black Olives, sliced
1/4 Cup Green Olives, sliced
1/2 Cup Artichoke Hearts, drained and chopped (marinated or regular in water)


1.  Combine water, vinegar, and garlic in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.

2.  As the water is boiling place couscous in a large mixing bowl.

3.  Pour the boiling water mixture over the couscous.  Stir to combine and then cover with a large dinner plate and let rest for 15 minutes. (The plate helps retain the heat and steam)

4.  While the couscous is cooking chop all of your veggies.

5.  After 15 minutes, drizzle couscous with 3 Tbsp lemon juice and fluff with fork. Drizzle with remaining 3 Tbsp lemon juice and fluff again.

6.  When the couscous has cooled a bit add the rest of your veggies and basil.  Stir to combine and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

This is good leftover the next day, but I do find it can get a little dry.  I have a habit of sprinkling it with extra balsamic or red wine vinegar before serving the next day.

Bon Appetit

" Couscous - the food so nice they named it twice" - Dale in Pineapple Express

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Rainy Day Squares - a Vegan Snack Cake

This recipe is a perfect compliment to a hot cup of tea or coffee on a cold rainy day.  I have adapted it from an old Company's Coming cookbook I purchased back in the early 90's. 

While it isn't a health food, the aroma when baking makes it worth the calories.  There are a few steps when combining all the ingredients, but it is worth the fuss.

I think the squares are sweet as they are so I do not top them with frosting or icing.  However, I do sprinkle them with a little powdered/confectioner's sugar to dress them up a bit.


1/2 cup Walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup Raisins or Dates, chopped
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 cup Boiling Water
1/2 cup vegan Margarine (I used soy free Earth Balance)
1 cup Brown Sugar, packed
1 Flax Egg ( 1 Tbsp ground Flax Seeds mixed with 3 Tbsp warm water)
1/2 tsp Vanilla
1 - 1/2 cups organic Unbleached Flour
1/4 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Ginger
 1/2 to 1 tsp Powdered/Confectioner's Sugar for dusting


1.  Preheat oven to 350˚F (176.6˚C).  Grease a 9x9 glass baking dish and set aside.

2.  In small ceramic bowl combine raisins, nuts, and baking soda.  Pour the boiling water over top and set aside.

3.  Mix your flax egg by combining 1 Tbsp ground flax seeds with 3 Tbsp warm water.  Stir together and set aside so it can thicken.

4.  In a separate bowl stir together the flour,  baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.  Set aside.

5.  In a large mixing bowl beat the margarine and brown sugar together.  Add vanilla and flax egg and beat again until well combined.  

6.  Add raisin mixture to brown sugar mixture and stir well.

7.  Add in the flour mixture and stir to combine. Pour into the greased pan.

(Ready for the oven)
8.  Place in the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes until a toothpick when inserted comes out clean.

(Fresh out of the oven)
9.  Place pan on a rack to cool.  Once cool, sift powdered sugar over the top if desired.  Cut into 16 squares and enjoy.

(Get in my belly)
*  Note:  Feeling adventurous?  If you want to spice it up a bit, try using very hot chai tea instead of the boiling water.

Bon Appetit

"Do not be angry with the rain, it simply does not know how to fall upwards." - Vladimir Nabokov

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

African Peanut Soup - Three Ways

There are many, many recipes for African Peanut Soup, but for the most part I think they all have the same basic ingredients.  Some contain cumin, cilantro, collard greens, and even sweet potatoes.  Some recipes suggest serving it with quinoa or rice.

This recipe is pretty basic and is my favorite version.  It is adaptable as far as ingredient add-ins and can be served three ways: a) on its own as a soup; b) over rice or quinoa; or c) with rice/quinoa mixed into the soup.

If you serve it over quinoa/rice and have leftovers, it is tasty to mix the quinoa/rice into the soup when reheating it.  It thickens it a bit, and is nice change up for leftovers.

In the pictures below I served both the quinoa and soup in the same dish. I then stored the leftover soup and quinoa separately in the refrigerator then reheated them together in the same pot the next day.

** A note about the peanut butter.  I recommend using a fresh ground all natural peanut butter that doesn't contain anything but ground peanuts.  The commercial brands such as Squirrel or Jiff contain hydrogenated oils and sugar and I think they would completely ruin the soup. They are also horrible nutritionally.


1 cup of Quinoa or Rice
Water sufficient to cook quinoa/rice (I use 1.5 cups water for 1 cup rice/quinoa)

5 cloves Garlic, minced
1/2 medium sized Red Onion or Yellow Onion, chopped
4 small Carrots, sliced
2 small Zucchini, halved and sliced
4 cups Water combined with 3 tsp No Chicken Bouillon
3-4 Tbsp ground Ginger (powder) If using fresh you might want to use less
4 Tbsp no sodium Tomato Paste
1/2 cup all natural, fresh ground Peanut Butter
1/3 cup Peanuts (raw or roasted)
  * Sriracha or Red Chili Paste to taste

1.  If you are serving this with rice/quinoa, get it started on the stove first so that it is ready when the soup is. If it is ready a little early, just keep the lid on and place the pot on the back of the stove to keep warm.

2.  Put a few tablespoons of water in a large sauce pan on medium heat.  You can use olive oil or peanut oil, but water works just fine without adding extra calories to the soup. You can even use a few tablespoons of the no chicken broth if you'd rather.  Add the garlic, onion and carrots  and cook until soft, making sure the mixture doesn't stick to the pan.

3.  Add the zucchini and cook a few minutes more. A little of the moisture will come out of the zucchini as it softens.

4.  Next, add the ginger and tomato paste.  Stir to combine, then add the broth.  Stir again, until the tomato paste is incorporated into the broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.

5.  Add the peanut butter.  Stir until the peanut butter 'melts' into the soup, which will thicken it a bit. Add the peanuts.  Cook for 3-5 minutes so that the flavors can mix together.

6.  Add Sriracha or chili paste to taste.  I used about a teaspoon on Sriracha for heat.

7.  To serve - ladle into your favorite bowls.  If you are serving with rice or quinoa, place a spoon or two of the grains in your bowl then ladle the soup over top or to the side.  Or, if you are adventurous, you can stir the quinoa or rice into the soup prior to serving.

** Note - If you don't like your soup quite as chunky, you can cut your zucchini into smaller pieces. 

Bon Appetit

" First-rate soup is more creative than a second-rate painting." - Abraham Maslow

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Mexican Inspired Coleslaw

The inspiration for this recipe came from a Mexican Street Salad recipe I saw and thought I could change it up and make it into more of a meal.  I am happy with the results.

It  is good as a light meal for lunch or as a side dish to grilled tofu or tempeh or even as a soft taco topper.  In the pictures below I've served it with some grilled Field Roast Chipotle vegan sausages. Spicy!

This recipe also lends itself to interpretation.  Mix and match veggies and spices to suit your taste. One suggestion is to top with sliced avocado.  You can't go wrong with avocado.  If you don't like radishes you can substitute chopped jicama for crunch.


1 Jalapeno Pepper, minced fine
2-3 Carrots, grated
1/4 cup minced Red Onion
2-1/2 cups chopped Red Cabbage
2-1/2 cups chopped Green Cabbage
8-10 Radishes, trimmed and sliced
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh Cilantro
2-3 Tbsp Olive Oil
3-4 Tbsp Lime Juice
1/4 tsp Cumin
1 Tbsp Maple Syrup


1.  In a large mixing bowl combine the jalapeno, carrots, red onion, red cabbage, green cabbage, radishes, and cilantro.  Stir to combine.

2.  In small bowl whisk together olive oil, lime juice, cumin, and maple syrup.

3.  Add dressing to veggies and stir to coat.  Taste to see if you need to add a little more lime juice or olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  Red pepper flakes or a little chili sauce will also kick up the flavors a notch.

Serve as a salad over mixed greens or as a side dish.

Bon Appetit

" When baking, follow directions.  When cooking, go by your own taste." - Laiko Bahrs

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Marrakesh Cauliflower Salad

The inspiration for this dish came from a recipe I saw that called for a hot cooked dish.  It made me think what I could do to it to spice it up a bit, add a little of this and that, omit a few other things, and turn it into a chilled salad.  This recipe is the result.  It isn't spicy as in heat, but has a lot of flavor and is best prepared the night before or at least several hours ahead of when you are planning on serving it. The flavors are best when they have time to infuse the cauliflower.

I've used the spice blend Za'atar in this mix.  It is a generic name for a family of related Middle Eastern herbs traditionally thyme, oregano, basil thyme, and savory or a combination thereof.  If you don't have Za'atar, just use a combination of the herbs.  Mix and match to your taste. I have also read that marjoram is used in some mixtures.

I happen to have a small bottle of the mixture given to me by my boss several years ago.  I cannot even tell you the exact ingredients.


1 head of Cauliflower, cut into large sections and grated
3 Carrots, grated
4 Green Onions, sliced
1/3 cup Raisins
1/3 cup raw Cashews
2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
2 Tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Maple Syrup
1/2 tsp Granulated Garlic
1/2 to 3/4 tsp Za'atar blend
1/4 tsp Cumin
1/8 tsp Turmeric
1/4 tsp dried Lemon Zest
Sea Salt and Black Pepper to taste
     *a pinch of ground Black Cardamon if you feel adventurous


1.  Cut cauliflower into large section, rinse and then grate into large bowl.

2.  To the cauliflower add the grated carrots, green onions, raisins, and cashews and stir to combine.

3.  In small bowl whisk together the lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, maple syrup, garlic, Za'atar, cumin, turmeric, lemon zest, and black cardamon if using it.

4.  Pour the dressing onto the salad and stir to incorporate.  Make sure to scoop up from the bottom when stirring to evenly coat the cauliflower.

5.  Taste the salad to see if you would like to add a little salt and pepper.  Add red pepper flakes to kick it up a notch.  I have also sprinkled in a little ground Sumac for flavor.  I haven't added it to the ingredient list as most people don't have it on hand.

6.  Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator until time to serve.  Serve it on a bed of mixed green, in a bowl on its own, or with grilled tempeh or tofu on the side.


- Bon Appetit

"Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." - World Health Organization, 1948

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Vegan Boston Cream Pie Cake

I've been making this recipe for over 20 years.  I can't tell you where it came from other than I still have a page ripped from an old mini cookbook; one like you find by the check out lines.  They were popular back in the 80's and 90's in BC.

I have modified it to be vegan.  The recipe calls for custard or vanilla pudding.  You can use your favorite recipe if you have one, or do what I did and use Birds Eye Custard Powder made with non-dairy milk.  Most of the larger grocery chains carry it in Oregon, even Winco.

I don't make the recipe very often.  With just the two of us, it probably isn't healthy to eat the whole thing, but it is nice as a treat.

I apologize for the pictures.  The indoor lighting was not the greatest when I made this cake.


1/3 cup Coconut Oil, firm - not melted
1 cup Evaporated Cane Juice (or sugar)
1 Tbsp ground Flax Seed + 3 Tbsp warm water to make one flax egg
1 tsp Vanilla
1-1/4 cups unbleached White Flour
1-1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt
3/4 cup Non Dairy Milk

1 cup of Vanilla Custard

1/4 cup unsweetened Chocolate Chips
3 Tbsp Coconut Oil
1 cup Powdered Sugar


1.  Preheat oven to 350˚F (176˚C).  Grease a 9 inch round cake pan.  I also like to cut a piece of wax paper in the size of the pan bottom, place it on the greased bottom and re-spray with non-stick spray. (I use an olive oil spray) This will come out of the pan perfectly every time.

2.  In small bowl combine the ground flax and warm water and set aside.

3.  In large bowl or electric mixer beat the coconut oil with the sugar until well blended.  Add in flax egg and vanilla and mix again.

4.  In small bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt.  Add the dry ingredients to the mixer alternatively with the non-dairy milk.  Make sure to beat well after each addition.

5.  Pour into prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool in pan at least 5 minutes and invert onto serving plate, peel off the wax paper, then let cool completely.

6.  While cake is cooling, prepare custard or pudding and set aside to cool.

7.  With a large sharp serrated knife slice the cake in half across the cake so you have two rounds about 1/2 an inch thick.  It doesn't have to be a perfect cut.  Mine sometimes are a little angled.  You can try the toothpick stuck in the sides as a guide trick, but I find that to be time consuming and eyeball it.

8.  Take the top slice off and set aside.  Spread custard or pudding onto bottom layer.

9. Place top layer back on over the custard. Use a few toothpicks inserted to keep the top from sliding off.  Depending on thickness, you may have to break the toothpicks before inserting.

10.  For topping, melt the chocolate chips and coconut oil in a small pan on low heat.  

11.  Remove from heat and stir in powdered sugar.  If the mixture is too thick add a little more coconut oil.  Pour over top of cake and spread so the glaze oozes over the side.  Chill cake.

12.  Slice to serve.  Use a sharp knife point to pierce the glaze.  Your slices might squish a little with cutting.

Store back in refrigerator with a little plastic wrap against the cut sides of the cake.

Bon Apetit

" A party without a cake is just a meeting." - Julia Child

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Jazzy Quinoa Salad w/Tempeh Cubes

What do I do when I have fresh pineapple and the weather is still warm? I make a jazzy Cuban inspired quinoa salad with a little smoky tempeh on the side.

This recipe is one I altered, from one that was adapted from another one, etc  I don't think it resembles the original fried rice recipe much.

I love the mixture of flavors and it was especially good leftover the next day.


1 cup Quinoa
1.5 cups Water
1 tsp No Chicken Bouillon
2 cups chopped fresh Pineapple (peeled and cored of course)
1 Green or Red Pepper, diced
1 - 15 oz can of Black Beans, drained and rinsed
2 tsp minced Garlic
6 Green Onions, white and green parts sliced thin
1 Jalapeno Pepper, remove seeds and mince

1 - 8 oz pkg Tempeh, cut into 1/2 - 1 inch cubes
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Liquid Smoke
2 Tbsp Maple Syrup
2 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
3 Tbsp gluten free Tamari (or soy sauce)


1.  In small bowl whisk together all tempeh marinade ingredients.  In a shallow glass dish or Ziploc bag mix the cubed tempeh with the marinade.  Let marinade for at least one hour, turning to coat as needed.

2.  Mix quinoa, water, and bouillon and bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let set for 5 minutes.  Place quinoa in a large mixing bowl and spread up the sides to cool.

3.  If you haven't already done so, chop all of your veggies and the pineapple and set aside.  Drain and rinse beans and set aside.

4.  Turn on your BBQ or grill to medium-high heat.  You can either grill the tempeh on skewers or in a grill pan so the cubes don't slide between the grates.  Place the tempeh on the grill prior to assembling salad, reserving marinade. Grill tempeh until brown on all sides and slightly dry.

5.  Mix the veggies, black beans, and pineapple into the cooled quinoa.  Stir from the bottom to incorporate.  A slightly warm salad tastes just as good as a cool one.  If you want a cold salad, make the quinoa up in the morning and refrigerate until ready to assemble.

6.  Once the tempeh is grilled.  Serve the salad with the tempeh on the side. Dip the grilled tempeh in the reserved marinade or drizzle a little on the salad and a little on top the tempeh for an extra kick. You can even stir a tablespoon or two of the marinade into the whole salad for a flavor boost.

- Bon Appetit

" You can do a lot for your diet by eliminating foods that have mascots." - Ted Spiker

Monday, September 8, 2014

Sweet & Savory Israeli Couscous Salad

If you are looking for a simple, but different summer salad, this is it.  A little sweet, a little savory, and it packs well for a picnic, potluck, or serving for lunch the next day.

I found a recipe for an Israeli couscous salad many years ago and slowly over the years I have adjusted this and that, and it has evolved to this recipe.

Israeli couscous is a large couscous that resembles large tapioca and is also called pearl couscous.  It is not gluten free.  For a gluten free option substitute hearty brown rice or even quinoa.



2 cups uncooked Israeli Couscous
1 large Cucumber, quartered and sliced
1 cup sliced Celery
1/4 cup minced Red Onion
2-3 Plums or Apricots, pitted, quartered, and sliced
1 large yellow or white Nectarine, pitted, sliced, and diced
8 oz Grape or Cherry Tomatoes, halved
1 Avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced
1/4 cup fresh Dill, minced
8-10 fresh Basil leaves, minced
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
2 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
Sprinkle of Salt & Pepper to taste


1. In a large saucepan bring a pot of water to boil.  Add the couscous and cook at a simmer until al dente, approximately 8 minutes.  Drain and rinse with cold water.  Be sure to use a small strainer or colander so the couscous doesn't run out the slots.

(Cooked, drained, and rinsed Israeli Couscous)
2.  Chop all of the vegetables, fruits, and herbs.

3.  In large bowl combine drained couscous and the veggie/fruit/herb mixture.  Use a large spatula to make sure ingredients are well incorporated.

4.  In small bowl whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, and vinegar.

5.  Combine dressing with couscous mixture and stir to coat well.

6.  Serve or store covered in the refrigerator.

- Bon Appetit

" We don't need a melting pot in this country folks.  We need a salad bowl.  In a salad bowl, you put in the different things.  You want the vegetables - the lettuce, the cucumbers, the onions, the green peppers - to maintain their identity.  You appreciate differences." - Jane Elliot

Monday, September 1, 2014

Simple Bruschetta

This is another of my favorite recipes and works really well in the summer when tomatoes and basil are in season and you can grill the bread outdoors instead of toasting in the oven.  My Aunt taught me how to make it about 8 years ago. Very simple with only a few ingredients and so good.

You can pair it with grilled tofu, or have it as a side dish / appetizer with pasta.  

**Notes: The riper the tomatoes the better the results with this recipe.  Do not omit a sprinkle of sea salt as it will help release the juices of the tomatoes.  Adjust the amount of each ingredient to suit your taste.  Everyone enjoys a little different ratio of tomatoes to basil, etc.


2 large regular Tomatoes or 4-5 Roma Tomatoes, finely chopped
2-3 Green Onions, sliced
4-6 large Basil leaves, finely chopped
Sprinkle of Sea Salt
1 Baguette, sliced into 1/4-1/2 inch thick slices


1.  Chop tomatoes, green onions, and basil and place in a glass or ceramic mixing bowl.  Do not use a metal bowl because it can react to the acid in the tomatoes.

2.  Mix the three ingredients together and sprinkle with sea salt. Stir and sprinkle again.

3.  Remove spoon, loosely cover, and let the mixture rest for at least 1/2 an hour or more.  

4.  When you are almost ready to serve, spray your baguette slices on each side with a little olive oil and grill for a few minutes on each side until crispy and golden.

5.  It is best to serve the bowl of bruschetta and basket of toasted baguette in separate containers on the table.  Use a spoon to scoop the bruschetta (making sure to include some juice) onto a baguette slice.  Crunch and enjoy.

Yes, it is a little messy to eat, but so good.  If you scoop a few at a time the bread can get a little soggy even though the toasted baguette seems to hold up well.  Hubby likes to dip the bread in the juice too.

- Bon Appetit

" If you've got a plot the size of a car or a tiny yard in Italy, you're going to be growing tomatoes and basil and celery and carrots, and everybody is still connected to the land." - Frances Mayes

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Curried Rice and Bean Salad

I developed this recipe one afternoon when craving some curry flavor, but without a final product in mind.  After scrounging in the kitchen and discovering some frozen cooked brown rice and other goodies on hand, a plan started forming.

This is the final product.  It has wonderful fresh flavors and is easily adapted to suit your tastes.  It is best if you can leave it for a few hours or even overnight for the flavors to mingle.

The fenugreek and sumac are optional - they are not critical to the flavors, but do add a more authentic flair to the salad.


4 cups cooked Brown Rice (you can use basmati, but for texture, brown rice works best)
1 can Black Beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup fresh Peas (or thawed from the freezer)
2-3 Carrots, sliced in rounds
1 cup fresh Corn kernels (or thawed from the freezer)
1/4 cup Red Onion, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp minced Garlic
1/3 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Curry Powder (hot or regular)
1/2 tsp Cumin
1/2 tsp Coriander
1/8 tsp Fenugreek powder
1/8 tsp Sumac powder
1/4 tsp Turmeric
** optional - sprinkle of Black Pepper and Red Pepper flakes


1.  Place the cooked rice in a large mixing bowl.  If you are just cooking the rice make sure you allow enough time for it to cool completely before making the salad.

2.  To the rice, add the peas, carrots, corn, red onion, and black beans.  Stir to combine.

3.  In a small bowl whisk together the apple cider vinegar, olive oil, garlic, curry, cumin, coriander, fenugreek, sumac, and turmeric to make a curry vinaigrette.

4.  Pour the curry vinaigrette over the veggie/rice mixture and stir to coat.

5.  Serve and sprinkle with fresh ground black pepper and red pepper flakes if desired.

I haven't tried it yet, but I believe this would also be good served in a wrap with some hummus and fresh greens such as spinach.

- Bon Appetit

" Don't dream it, be it." - Tim Curry

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Apple Crisp Cheesecake - Vegan

It has been quite a while since I have posted something sweet, so today is the day.

About a month ago, when the weather wasn't so warm, I baked a cheesecake.  It turned out super yummy.  It made enough that I took half of it in to the office.  Even the omnivores loved it.

There are a lot of apple crisp cheesecake recipes on the net and most of them have eggs, milk, and regular cream cheese.  I adapted this recipe from one found on One Green Planet, I believe originally posted by Vegan Heartland.  I did change it up a bit, mostly by changing the base from graham wafers and cutting out the extra sugar in the base.

This is not a health food by any means, but is nice for a once yearly indulgence.  I usually do not use too many processed foods or recipes with this much sugar, so this was a rare treat for us.

I have full intentions of using this idea and changing it up into a healthy no bake version.  My plan is to get creative and use a cashew cream cheese filling and a raw nut/date base, and no refined sugars. Maybe I'll get started on that.  The out-takes until I master it should be tasty.

Note:  If you cannot find Speculoos cookies for the crust, use a vegan graham wafer, gingersnap cookie, etc.  If you use graham wafers you may want to add a little sugar to the crust mix.


1 pkg Speculoos Cookies, processed to make 1 cup
3/4 cup Rolled Oats
6 Tbsp vegan Margarine, such Earth Balance - melted
2 - 8oz pkg vegan non-hydrogenated Cream Cheese
3 tsp Ener-G Egg Replacer, whisked with 4 Tbsp warm water
2 tbsp Corn Starch, whisked with 2 tbsp cold water
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1/4 cup White Sugar
1/2 tsp ground Cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground Ginger
2 tsp Vanilla extract
1/4 cup Rolled Oats
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
1/4 cup Unbleached White Flour
1/2 tsp ground Cinnamon
2 tbsp vegan Margarine, melted
1 medium Apple, peeled and sliced thin


1.  Preheat oven to 350˚F.

2.  Blend together the cookie crumbs and oats until fine.  Add melted margarine and mix until combined.  

3.  Press the base mixture into a large glass pie dish.  Press up the sides to form a complete bottom crust.  Set aside.

4.  In a food processor or Kitchen Aid Mixer combine cream cheese, brown sugar, white sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and vanilla until smooth.  Add egg replacer mixture and corn starch mixture and blend again.

5.  Pour cream cheese mixture onto base.  Feel free to take the time to lick the beaters and the bowl from mixing the filling.

(Cream Cheese filling on the cookie base)
6.  In one even layer, place the apple slices on top of the cheesecake mixture.

(Apples on top of cream cheese filling)
7.  For topping - in a small bowl combine oats, brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon.  Stir in melted margarine.  Sprinkle all of the topping on top of the apple slices.

8.  Bake for 40-45 minutes until topping is dark brown and the filling seems set.

Let cool, then refrigerate overnight.  You can let it chill for a few hours then eat a piece, but it won't be quite as firm as it is the next day. (We ate some after just a few hours of refrigeration - still tasty)

Warning, the apples can be a little tricky to cut through so don't worry if your slices are a little messy, just use a sharp knife.

- Bon Appetit

" Because you don't live near a bakery doesn't mean you have to go without cheesecake." - Hedy Lamarr

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Raw Spaghetti with Zucchini Noodles - Vegan/Gluten Free

While I love spaghetti, I don't love all the carbs and calories that come with traditional style spaghetti. In the winter I'll make a spaghetti sauce, then blanch zucchini noodles to go with it (see photo on blog side bar).  With our warm summer weather I decided to try something a little different this year and make a raw spaghetti sauce.  I was pleased with the way it turned out and even Troubadour said he enjoyed it.

I used my veggie spiralizer on the smallest setting and I think it would be good with it set on the ribbon setting as well - almost like a linguine noodle shape.

I didn't add any green peppers to the sauce, which I usually do when cooked.  I was worried it might over power the other flavors when raw.  Feel free to play with it a little bit.

I also topped it with raw almond parmesan.  A staple I always keep in the fridge, and make up a new batch when out.  The recipe I use is from  The only two changes I make to the recipe are that I use less salt and use granulated garlic rather than garlic powder.  Their recipe calls for 1-2 tsp of salt and I use a 1/4 tsp maximum.  I also use the Vitamix instead of smashing it in a bag.  Here is a link to the recipe:  LINK

This recipe makes two large dinner sized portions.  We eat this as a main course without any side dishes with it.



2-3 Zucchini (depending on size)
2 cups chopped ripe Tomatoes (regular or Roma)
1-2 tsp minced Garlic
6-8 leaves of fresh Basil
3 Green Onions OR 1/4 cup Sweet Yellow Onion (reserve a bit for garnish)
1 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast
     *  Almond Parmesan and/or Black Olives for garnish


1.  Wash and spiralize your zucchini into noodles.  Divide into portions and place in serving dishes.

2.  In a blender or food processor (I used the Vitamix) add tomatoes, garlic, basil, onions, and nutritional yeast.  Blend, or pulse, at low speed until combined, but still chunky.  Blending at a higher speed for longer will result in a thinner and almost foamy sauce.  Not good.

3.  Spoon sauce onto noodles.  Top with almond parmesan, a few black olives, and reserved onions. Sprinkle with salt and pepper if desired.  A few dried chili flakes are also good on top.

- Bon Appetit

" It is difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts when eating a homegrown tomato." - Lewis Grizzard