Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Low Calorie, Low Sugar Margarita

We'll call it the 'skinny' margarita! But way better than those mixes you buy in the store full of nasty fake sugar, which I loathe!

Try this today, or any day, for an incredibly refreshing and fun cocktail.

Add more or less tequila per your personal preference. I am not a huge tequila fan, but I find, with this recipe, I love it! As long as I spring for the top shelf stuff. Yeah. Sometimes I don't, but certain alcohols call for the goods :)

'Skinny' Margarita:
Makes... Maybe 6 drinks?? Depends on how strong and fruity you want your drinks. I like the 'spritzer' theory... Fun but not 'college drunk crazy' :)

Juice of 6 limes
Juice of 3 oranges
8-12 oz top shelf tequila
1/2 cilantro bunch stems, wrapped in string
Fizzy water
Cava, or other dry bubbles

In a pitcher, combine lime and Orange juice with tequila. Drop tied cilantro stems into the pitcher and let sit (up to overnight!)

To serve:
In a 16oz mason jar, pour 1/4 juice/tequila mixture, 1/2 fizzy water, and top with your bubbles.

Light, not too sweet, super refreshing, and low cal, ole!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Veg Corned Beef and Cabbage

Happy day o' the Irish! 

Here is one of my favorite celebratory meals for this fun day. I have made it several times, and posted several years ago here

It's not totally vegan, because, as one reader pointed out.. Guinness is not vegan. That is correct. So if you're strictly vegan, switch the Guinness for a beer you like. Or use broth. Or use water. Regardless... it's a celebration folks, so enjoy!

For the veg, etc...
3 1/2 cups vegetable broth
4 carrots, sliced into about 1/4 inch rounds
1 white onion, roughly chopped (keep it chunky)
1/2 head cabbage, roughly chopped
4-5 baby red potatoes, quartered or 8thd, depending on size
1 teaspoon thyme
1 1/2 teaspoon sage
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons coarse mustard
2 teaspoons fresh horseradish
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
2 Tablespoons Bragg's liquid aminos

For the 'beef'

1 1/2 cup vital wheat gluten
1/4 cup rolled oats
3 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
2 Tablespoons Bragg's liquid aminos
3/4 cup cold water
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons liquid smoke

Turn your crock pot on high and add all "veg, etc." ingredients. Cover and let cook for 4 hours total 

Two hours into the process, start your corned 'beef' by mixing all dry ingredients in a large bowl: vital wheat gluten, rolled oats, nutritional yeast, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika and pepper.

In a smaller bowl, combine all wet ingredients: Bragg's, cold water, olive oil and liquid smoke.

On the stove, start a pot with water and steaming basket.

Gradually add wet ingredients to dry, stirring as you go until your mixture comes together into a ball. Once you have a ball, begin kneading.

Knead for about 3 minutes then form a log of sorts, wrap neatly in tin foil. Put in prepared steaming pot and let steam on med/high for about 25 minutes. Note: ensure you have included enough water so as the steaming process doesn't evaporate it all, leaving you with an empty steaming pot.

At 25 minutes, turn off stove and let sit for about 10 minutes. Turn on oven to a low broil. 

Open the tin foil and place 'beef' under broiler for 5 minutes. Turn 'beef' over and broil for another 5 minutes then remove from oven.

Transfer freshly broiled 'beef' to your crock pot, ensuring it is fully submersed in the liquid. Note: I removed some veg to get it in, then returned it on top. 

Let cook for 1 hour in the crock pot then remove, slice as thin as you can possibly get it and return slices to the crock pot, again ensuring they are fully submersed. Note: next time I would use a mandoline to slice the 'beef', to get a thin, even cut.

Let crock pot cook for another hour until potatoes are tender then you're ready to serve.

You can serve it in a bowl with more broth or on a plate with a little broth drizzled on top. 

Start with the veg, ensuring each serving has a good representation of carrots, potatoes, cabbage and onion. Then arrange the 'beef' on top or slightly to the side. Ladle a little broth on top for added flavor. I had extra horseradish on the side as an option.


Thursday, February 5, 2015

Chalkboard Design Tips

It's true. I have an incredible obsession with chalkboard paint. I heart chalkboard paint. I used to hide it; deny it; laugh at it... and now I just accept it. 

I am fairly certain though, that hubby has cut me off... after painting several chalkboards of varying size, I took the liberty of painting a wall. When he saw it, the look in his eyes was 'you're done'. But he loves it. And so do I!  

I love that I can change the designs whenever I want. Though it does take time; time I should use to do the laundry, call team members, clean my office (can anyone say procrastination?), it does satisfy my need for change in the house. And it's just plain fun. Who doesn't like to write on a chalkboard?

So... as my obsession developed, I learned a lot about having giant chalkboards. Here are some tips and tricks I have found incredibly useful:

- Prep the floor below your chalkboard.  If you have a chalkboard wall, or large chalkboard you can’t remove from the wall, cover the floor with a towel or something to catch the chalk dust. Trust me, I learned this the hard way. Chalk falls and even when you clean it, it’s still sort of ‘always there'. Also, when you are finished with your design, leave the towel on the floor for a few hours, especially if your chalkboard is in a high-traffic area. The dust from a freshly drawn chalkboard will continue to fall for a while and again, you don't want it stuck to your floor.

- Seasoning your board. If you’re using a new chalkboard, consider ‘seasoning’ it. You don’t have to do this, but it does help with ‘staining’ that can occur when removing your design. (Staining is when you erase your chalkboard and a shadow of the image is still there.) If this happens, it’s not a big deal.

Seasoning gives your chalkboard a ‘well loved’ look. This will happen anyway, but if you don’t like that, don’t worry about it. I have one board I seasoned and one I didn't. Honestly, there is a very minuscule difference between the two.

- How to season: it’s so easy! Using a large piece of chalk (sidewalk chalk works great) run the long side all over your chalkboard. Once you have the whole thing covered, use a wet washcloth to wipe it all off. That’s it!

- Designs/Quotes. If you don’t feel creative, or just want some quick ideas, our good friends Google and Pinterest have a ton of chalkboard designs that you can simply copy. 

I like to Google quotes by people I like and design from there. Also, if your chalkboard is something you would like to update frequently, I suggest keeping a list of quotes you like. When you’re ready to change your board, pick one and go for it!

- Fonts. Yes, you can just write on your chalkboard, but using different fonts and font sizes makes your design more interesting. I suggest no more than two, maybe three fonts with one being script and one serif, all of which are different thickness, darkness, size, etc; it makes it pleasing to the eye. 

- For font ideas, go online to a free font website and take a look. 1001freefonts.com is great, as is dafont.com, though dafont isn't always free. Keep in mind, you don’t necessarily have to download them, just copy onto your design sheet (see below).

- Your Design. I find it's easier to sketch out your design on paper first. That, or have a copy of the design you want to do in hand.

- Lightly sketch out your design on the chalkboard first. This way you can get the design how you want it to look before finalizing it.

- Chalk. There are lots of options out there from classic sticks of chalk, to fancy chalk cartridge writers and chalk markers. Personally, I like good oldfashioned chalk sticks. They’re not as precise as the chalk pens, but they erase from your board without a headache, come in lots of different colors, and are easy to use. 

Keep in mind; depending on the type of chalk pen you are using, it may not come off your board at all. At best, there will be a lot of scrubbing involved, so if you like to change your chalkboard often, I suggest sticking with regular chalk.

- Water is a huge player in the chalkboard game. Water is your friend. You need it to clean up your mistakes, and to get your design to pop. 

Have a wet washcloth on hand. You can also have a little cup of water nearby to dip your chalk into. (I usually just press my chalk into the washcloth because I keep my cloth pretty wet). Keep dipping your chalk as you go. It will go on your chalkboard and not look very dark, but trust me, it will dry nice and bold.

- Colored chalk. White chalk is my go-to, but I use colored chalk to accent certain words, and/or the design in general.

- Washcloth, or fabric rag. Use a washcloth or fabric rag when removing (or editing) your design. Paper towels fall apart, and also leave a residue all over your board. Plus, it's just more green to use a cloth.

- Q-tips are awesome tools for erasing small, hard-to-get-to-with-a-washcloth areas. I also use my washcloth wrapped around my little finger, if I'm too 'engrossed' in my project to get a q-tip.

- Level your design. If free-handing your design is too scary, it's ok... you can use a level or ruler to lightly draw lines (which you can later erase).

 To center words on your chalkboard, start in the middle. For instance, if you want to write the word ‘HAPPINESS’ and you want it centered, find the center of your chalkboard and write your letter ‘I’. From there, work your way out until you have sketched the entire word.

- Rubbing.  If you just don’t want to free-hand at all, there is a simple trick you can do for perfect chalkboards every time: Rubbing your design on! 

Open a Word document, and create your design, fun fonts, design and all. Print it out, flip it over, and use a large piece of chalk to completely (and heavily) cover the back side of your paper with chalk. 

Place your paper, chalk side to the chalkboard, and trace the design. When you remove the paper, there will be a light copy of your design on the chalkboard. From there, simply trace over the light copy of your design with wet chalk to make it pop! 

Of course, this works much better on smaller chalkboards, though you certainly could print out several sheets and arrange them on your board.

- Most important of all.... HAVE FUN! It’s a chalkboard for goodness sake. It doesn’t have to be perfect because you will have designed it with love. And of course, there's always a wet rag and water...

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Handmade Vegan Ramen Noodles

This feels almost weird; blogging. Weird but super awesome. It has been heavy on my mind since my last post. Like, three years ago.

I haven't forgotten about my beloved La Pure Mama blog, however sometimes things happen. Things like pregnancies that make you never want to cook again. And a toddler. Not just any toddler. But a 2 1/2 year old toddler who has taken up a vigilant campaign of letting everyone around her know that she is 2 1/2. Yeah.

But here I am! I'm back! Now, I can't guarantee I'll be posting as neurotically regularly as I did before, but I can guarantee that I will make a concerted effort to take photos and post, and... what I do post will be wicked awesome. So... thanks for keeping me in your little bloggy roll thing; even if you didn't necessarily know I was gone, ha!

So... for my first recipe of the year 2015, I'll be posting about noodles. I'll be posting about noodles because the almost-9-year-old's nickname is Noodle. No that's not why I'm posting, but that really is his nickname.

He was home sick yesterday and wanted 'noodle soup', so I thought, what better time to tackle handmade ramen noodles than when I'm home with one sick kid, and one VERY 2 1/2 year old. Perfect distraction.

I can't take credit for this recipe; I followed the great tutorial on NoRecipes. It was super easy; especially with the pasta attachment on my KitchenAid. Sadly for me, they were really really good! I am a self-proclaimed 'carb-hoe' and don't need any temptation lurking around the house. These noodles are that.

So here you go, and look for more from me! Also, pass me on! I do good things most of the time, and when I don't, I post about it anyway and it's funny :)

Hand Made Ramen Noodles
adapted from NoRecipes
Makes enough for about 4 bowls of noodle soup

2 cups unbleached bread flour
1/2 cup warm water
1 teaspoon baking soda (you can also use kansui, I just didn't have any)

Combine flour and baking soda in your KitchenAid bowl.

Note: kansui is a sodium bicarbonate that is 'technically' used to make these noodles. It gives them a great texture and also turns them that telltale yellow color that good ramen has. I didn't have any kansui hanging around my kitchen, and I had heard at one point in life that you can substitute it with baking soda. I also heard technically you have to 'bake' the baking soda to change it's chemical profile but I wasn't into going that deep, so I just put it in. Guess what? It worked great :)

Add water and mix on medium/high for about 8-10 minutes. The dough is dry and will be crumbly at first, go with it. It's ok. It will come together.

After about 8-10 minutes, turn dough out and form into a ball, then cut that ball in half.

Affix the 'sheet' pasta roller attachment onto your KitchenAid and insert first ball into it while it's on the widest setting. Keep running the dough through, folding it over itself each time. Once you have a firm sheet, fold into itself, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use, or for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Repeat with other dough ball.
Little hands can "help" ?? :)

Note: you can roll this dough out by hand if you don't have a pasta roller or KitchenAid. Simply use a rolling pin (french is my favorite). It will take more elbow grease, but you can do it.

While your dough is chilling, you can prepare your soup (if that's what you're using it for). I kept it simple: miso broth, diced carrots and zucchini, Gardein vegan meatballs halved, and fresh green onions on top.

When you're ready to make your noodles: 
Get a large pot of salted water boiling on the stove.

Unfold your first dough sheet and run it through the 'sheet' pasta attachment on the next thinnest setting from the largest. Just roll it through once.

Change your attachment to the 'spaghetti' attachment. cut your dough in half lengthwise and run your dough through, creating fun spaghetti ramen noodles.

As your noodles come out, toss them in just a bit of flour so they don't stick, and set them aside. Repeat for all dough.

Once you have all your noodles run through, you can cook them. Toss them into your pot of boiling water and cook for just a couple of minutes. The noodles will float to the top when they're ready. Strain, rinse with water so the cooking process stops, and add to your soup.

Note: if you are going to use your ramen noodles for stir-fry, or other pasta with sauce, don't rinse them with water, just strain.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Vegan Banana Bread

Im here! Sorry, I have been extremely busy stuffing my face with this amazing banana bread. Seriously. Amazing.
I actually have to be mindful of making it because I end up eating most of it before anyone knows it was made in the first place. The only trace is the beautiful aroma it leaves in the house. And my full belly.


2 cups white whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon mace
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup earth balance spread
1/2 cup raw sugar
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup So Delicious coconut soy milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup walnut pieces (optional)
3/4 cup raisins (optional)

Preheat oven to 350.

Lightly grease a bread pan.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, mace and ginger. Mix to combine very well.

In a kitchen aid, or large bowl, cream together Earth Balance and both sugars. When fully combined, Add bananas, So Delicious coconut milk and vanilla and continue to mix until just combined.

Gradually add flour mixture to wet mixture, mixing until just combined.

Add walnuts and raisins and again mix until just combined.

Transfer batter to prepared pan and spread evenly.

Bake for 60 to 70 minutes until golden brown.

This banana bread is great topped with a little Earth Balance, or finished with some So Delicious coconut milk ice cream or all by its lonesome.

So. So. Good.


Monday, December 12, 2011

Vegan Gingerbread Cookies

Oh, my dear friends I have been so MIA! The last few weeks have been cuh-razy around here and something just had to give. Temporarily only. I have some lovely things to post for you and I wanted to kick it off with some amazing cookies.

Gingerbread men, gingerbread women, gingerbread trees, sleighs, stars and more! The best part? Little five and three-quarter hands helped me the whole way through.

These cookies are super delicious too! Full of ginger and molasses, chewy yet crunchy and perfect with a little vegan frosting and colorful sugar. Oh, they're also great on their own. And, ahem... the dough is as well.

So get your kid(s) or borrow someone else's and make these fun festive morsels!

2 3/4 cup unbleached white flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 Tablespoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup Earth Balance spread, softened
3/4 cup molasses
1 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 Tablespoons So Delicious coconut nog (can use regular so too, but this is so much better)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, ginger, cloves, cinnamon and salt. Use a fork to combine well.

In your Kitchenaid or a large bowl, combine Earth Balance, molasses and brown sugar. Mix on medium speed until smooth. Add So Delicious coconut nog and vanilla and continue to mix until fully combined.

With the Kitchenaid on low, gradually add flour mixture to wet mixture in about 1 cup increments until just combined. Turn off Kitchenaid and use a spatula to fold any remaining ingredients together.

Divide into two portions; place each on wax paper and roll into a log. Make sure the dough is wrapped so it is airtight. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours but up to overnight.

When ready to roll and bake:

Preheat oven to 325.

Roll your first dough log into a circular shape that is about 1/4 to 1/8 inch thick, depending on how thick you want your cookies.

Using cookie cutters, press out your cookies, placing them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper as you go. When your dough is 'stamped out', simply bring it together and roll it out again.

When you have a full cookie sheet, bake for 10-12 minutes, depending on how thick your cookies are and how crunchy you like your cookies.

Our cookies were between 1/4 and 1/8 inch thick and I baked for 10 minutes because I don't like super duper crunchy cookies.

Remove from oven, let cool, then frost and decorate.

Repeat for all dough.

Enjoy and happy holidays!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes

I have so much to be thankful for this year:

Our amazing Noodle Nose, my outstanding (and devastatingly handsome) husband, a roof over our head, food to eat, my fantastic new business, our families who love us unconditionally and are always there, our friends who are like family in every sense of the word, challenges which make me stronger (yes, I"m even thankful for that), my extended friend list including everyone who reads and/or comments on this blog, the beautiful place we live...

The list goes on and on.

I am excited to share this year's Thanksgiving feast with you, though given the incredibly busy nature of our life in the last few weeks, I wasn't proactive enough to get them up early.

I do want to share with you many of my favorite vegan recipes, all of which I have tested and loved. Best of all? You can find them all here!

Thank you for your continued support and visits to La Pure Mama! I am truly thankful for each and every one of you. More than you know :)


And now, on to the food!!

Some fun and fantastic appetizers, perfect for Turkey day, football watching and tofurky salivating:

Tomato Bruschetta with Balsamic Reduction
Vegan Mushroom Pate
Vegan Almond Cheese
Sweet Potato Pita Canapes

Check out more on the La Recipes page!

Some salads, sides and other stuff:

Kale Quinoa Salad
Grilled Asparagus Salad
Cranberry Pomegranate Sauce
Cranberry Orange Pomegranate Sauce
Spicy Brussel Sprouts
Roasted Chickpeas and Collard Greens

And oh so many more on the La Recipes page...

The main event. Oh yeah!

Homemade Tofurky
Seitan Roast with Mushroom Gravy, Potatoes and Beans

And the other main event. I mean dessert...

Vegan Pumpkin Pie
Vegan Blackberry Apple Torte
Vegan Baklava
Vegan Pomegranate Cupcakes
Vegan Eggnog Cookies
Vegan Chocolate Cake

Now, this list is ridiculously long. Check out the La Recipes page. There are so many to choose from!

Happy Holidays my friends!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Vegan Broccoli Pesto Pasta

Two things come to mind as this very behind the ball blogger writes:

1. Does anyone besides me continually forget whether broccoli has two C s or two L s?

I'm kind of a neurotic speller. I know how to spell a lot of things and unless I'm being lazy, things are usually spelled correctly. But I can't for the life of me ever remember. I'm hoping by posting this it will be forever ingrained in my brain.

2. Nothing. And I mean nothing sounds good to me lately. Nothing sounds good to eat and nothing sounds good to cook.

It's gotten so bad recently that Honey has taken over the kitchen. Two. Days. In. A. Row. On the menu? Geeze, I can't even remember what Saturday's dinner was. Last night was nachos. Yes. Nachos. Doesn't really matter to me because as I might have mentioned: nothing sounds good to me.

I'm hoping this affliction will cure itself soon. Especially because the impending 'food holiday' is a mere three days away. I am cooking. And I'm liking my menu.

I did poop out a little though and decided to go with a store bought tofurky rather than my usual Homemade Tofurky or Homemade Seitan Roast. Both are fairly simple but hey, a girl's got to do what a girl's got to do. Bear with me friends.

So for today I have a fun little recipe courtesy of Vegetarian Times, one of my favorite magazines. It's a simple and tasty broccoli pesto pasta. I added a few tweaks here and there because I just can't leave any recipe alone.

6 Tablespoons raw cashews
3 large garlic cloves, quartered
2 cups organic broccoli florets
1 1/2 cups loosely packed parsley leaves
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. olive oil
4 teaspoons lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
2 Tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained, optional
12 oz. medium sized pasta. I used shells
1 container cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 package tofurky sun dried tomato sausages, cut lengthwise then sliced
Fresh parsley leaves for garnish (optional)
Fresh lemon for garnish (optional)


Coarsely chop cashews and place in a food processor along with garlic. Pulse until you have a rough consistency. Note: you don't have to go overboard on this because you'll be adding more ingredients.

Bring large pot of salted water to a boil. Add broccoli and cook about 2-3 minutes until just barely soft. Drain and shake to get most of the moisture off.

Add broccoli, parsley, oil, lemon juice, lemon zest and capers to your food processor and pulse/blend until smooth. Add salt and pepper, blend again and taste. Add more salt and pepper as needed then set aside.
Bring another large pot of salted water to a boil and add pasta. Cook until al dente then drain but do not rinse.

While pasta is cooking, combine tomatoes, sausage and pesto to a large skillet and heat on low. Cook stirring until pasta is done.

When pasta is done add to the skillet and stir to combine, ensuring pesto evenly covers everything. You're ready to serve.

Portion onto a plate and add a bit of extra fresh parsley and a squirt of fresh lemon juice, if desired.

Perfect with a little green salad.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Vegan Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

On a wishy washy day that looks like it really wants to snow but it probably won't, it just seems right to make something to snack on that is equally oxymoron-ish.

Bananas equal healthy. Chocolate chips equal not as healthy.

I say that, except I'm forty-two percent sure 'they' are still advocating chocolate like they are red wine. Dear 'they', thank you for advocating chocolate and red wine. I appreciate your validation.

These muffins are really simple and turned out the perfect crumb and flavor. I 'guinnea pigged' several people and low and behold, they were winners with everyone who ate them. Especially me. Who may or may not have eaten two. In a row. I.... call it quality control?

Yield: about 18 muffins

4 teaspoons egg replacer
6 Tablespoons So Delicious coconut milk
3 ripe bananas, smashed
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup unbleached white flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup vegan chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 and line two muffin pans with liners. Alternately you can lightly spray them with a bit of oil or Earth Balance.

In a small bowl, combine egg replacer and So Delicious coconut milk. Using a fork, whip vigorously until fully combined and lightly frothy. Set aside.

In another small bowl, mash bananas together using a fork until you have a mostly smooth consistency with few lumps.

In a medium bowl, combine both flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Use a fork to whisk together evenly.

In a Kitchenaid or another bowl, combine brown sugar, vegetable oil and vanilla. Mix on medium until combined then add egg replacer mixture and bananas. Continue to mix until fully combined.

With the Kitchenaid (or you and a spoon) on low, gradually add the flour mixture to your wet mixture. Immediately add chocolate chips and mix until just combined.

Scoop into muffin tins or prepared pan so each tin is 3/4 full.

Bake for 18-20 minutes.

Remove. Enjoy.

These make a fantastic (mostly healthy) snack. They are also great with some So Delicious coconut (or other) ice cream.

Personally I like mine all on their own, washed down with some of that Yum-Mazing So Delicious Coconut Nog. Which happens to be my new favorite thing.


Monday, November 14, 2011

Potato Kale Soup with Quinoa

Oh my I have been horribly distracted from my dear blog this last week or so and I have missed it terribly!

I have been feverishly working on wrapping up my final projects for school, which are many and detailed. On top of that I'm launching a new business that ties into my schooling, this blog and our general way of life.

Oh and then there's the usual laundry, dinner, house, animals, husband, kid, me (me??) whatnot that's always there. Whew! A heck of a lot of things going on.

But I have been cooking! Oh yes! And I will get the recipes up here because there are some fun ones.

And you know what I have learned? Summer is to salad as winter is to soup. Am I the only one who hated those damn things on the SAT test? Ugh. But it is true indeed...

Salads of Summer prevail for maybe three months out of the year... if we're lucky. Soup though? Soup gets a whole bunch of months. And that's good because I love soup.

This one combines several of my favorite ingredients including, yes it does: kale. I love kale. Like, a ridiculous amount. It's almost obscene.

To round it out I also included some delicious leeks and red potatoes. Think Vicchysoisse. And, of course, one of my other ingredient lurves: quinoa, for a little protein.

The soup was slightly spicy, very filling and perfect for leftovers.

Yield: about 6-8 servings

3 small leeks, halved and chopped
2 cloves garlic
Extra virgin olive oil
6-8 red potatoes, quartered (or halved if they're small)
5 cups vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
pinch red pepper flakes
1/3 teaspoon oregano
pinch rosemary
pinch thyme
pinch marjoram
1 1/2 cups water

3/4 cup dry quinoa
About 1-2 Tablespoons tamari
4-6 leaves kale, de-ribbed and chopped into bite sized pieces

In a soup pot, combine leeks, garlic and olive oil. Heat to med/high and cook, stirring until soft. About 2-3 minutes.

Add potatoes and stir then add broth. Reduce heat to med/low and add bay leaf, red pepper flakes, oregano, rosemary, thyme and marjoram. Cover and let cook until potatoes are tender, about 25-30 minutes. Check every 8 minutes or so and give it a stir.

Meanwhile cook your quinoa by bringing the 1 1/2 cups water to boil in a separate pot. Add quinoa and stir, cover and gradually reduce heat as quinoa soaks up the water. Don't for get to intermittenly stir it.

When done, turn off heat, remove lid and fluff. Set aside.

Add tamari and kale to your soup. Stir, ensuring kale is fully immersed in the soup. This will help soften it.

Taste your soup and add more tamari (or salt, if you like) as needed. When the flavor is to your liking, you're ready to serve.

Start by portioning quinoa into the bottom of your bowls. Ladle soup over top, ensuring an equal amount of ingredients and broth.

You can serve alongside a green salad if you like, or bread, if you want extra carbs.

This is the perfect healthy meal to warm you up on the cold winter evenings.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Coconut Curry Tomato Soup

Rainy, freezing cold days, like the ones we have been having makes me crave my ultimate comfort food: tomato soup and grilled cheese. Or 'girled' cheese, if you're Noodle Nose.

Yes, the rainy days always make me want it. That and my cousin posted on Facebook that they were having tomato soup and grilled cheese for dinner and that just tipped me over the edge.

Aside from being deliciously delicious, tomato soup is ultra versatile. You can make it into anything you want. You can go standard tomato, you can do coconut, pesto, spicy, chunky, the possibilites are endless!

I've made this one before, and if you look in the 'soup' section, you will see there are several other versions. It's a great way to play around in the kitchen. Even better if the rain is pouring down outside!


1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 medium sweet onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped fine or smashed
2 cans (14 oz) organic diced tomatoes
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1 can coconut milk
2-3 Tablespoons fresh basil, julienned and sliced down the middle

Grilled cheese... the caramelized onion grilled cheese is my favorite

In a soup pot, heat oil on med/high and add onions and garlic. Saute on high, stirring, for about 3-5 minutes, until translucent and soft. Reduce heat and add tomatoes, curry, salt, pepper, cumin and coriander. Mix to incorporate, reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile.... prep your grilled cheese!
After about 10-15 min of soup simmering, uncover, taste and add salt, as needed.

Add coconut milk and basil. Stir and let cook, uncovered for another 8-10 minutes.
If you have a hand blender (best investment ever!!!) immerse it into the soup and give it a blend. Note: you don't have to completely puree it... let it have a little texture.

If you don't have a hand blender, transfer into a blender and roughly blend; again, texture. Then transfer back into the pot.

Ladle soup into a bowl, arrange bowl on a plate, cut grilled cheese and serve. If you like, you can serve a fresh green salad alongside, for some fresh fiber.

Enjoy, and stay warm!!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Vegan Mediterranean Plate: Falafel Hummus and Greek Salad

The mediterranean plate is one of my favorite meals. In fact, I have a tendency to make a ton of falafel and freeze them so they're just ready to go.

Because it's not only filling, it is bursting with flavor and texture. And both are very important, in my opinion.

I also really like food I can eat with my hands. And food that makes me think.

I like having choices. Do I eat my falafel by itself? With hummus? Stuffed in a pita with salad? Salad first? Salad in the pita and hummus on the falafel? The possibilities are endless.

That makes it fun. Fun for you. Fun for the kids. Fun for the big kids.


Yield: about enough for a family of four. Maybe some leftovers


For the Falafel:
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed 

1/2 sweet white onion, chopped fine
1 Tablespoon roasted garlic (you can use plain garlic too, it's just stronger)
3 Tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
1/3 teaspoon salt
Splash of pepper
3 Tablespoons flour
1/4 cup plus about 1/4 cup panko breading

For the Hummus:
1 can large white beans, drained and rinsed
1 Tablespoon tahini
Juice of 1 large lemon
Zest of same lemon
About 1/4 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 clove garlic, smashed and diced very fine
about 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil. Maybe a bit more

For the Greek Salad:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
About 3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, chopped very fine
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 english cucumber, quartered and chopped into about 1/4 inch pieces
1 carton cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 green bell pepper, de-seeded, quartered and cut into about 1/4 inch pieces
1 small red onion, peeled, quartered and cut into about 1/4 inch pieces
1 head (or bag) butter lettuce or other lettuce mix
About 1/2 cup kalamata olives, drained and halved

Vegan pita bread (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and lightly oil a baking sheet.

Prepare your falafel by combining chickpeas, onion, garlic, parsley, coriander, cumin, salt and pepper in food processor. Pulse to combine.

Put your mix into a bowl and add 1/4 cup of the panko breading and flour then mix to combine.

Form into about 1 to 1 1/2 inch balls then gently roll in panko. Place on baking sheet. Repeat for all falafel dough.

When your falafel is all formed, bake in oven for 8-10 minutes then rotate and bake another 5-8 minutes. Rotate again, bake and repeat until all sides of your falafel balls are toasty brown. Note: you can fry or pan fry your falafel balls too, I just like to bake when at all possible.

While your falafel is baking, prepare your hummus and salad.

For your hummus, combine white beans, tahini, lemon juice, zest, oregano, parsley salt and pepper in food processor. Put lid on and pulse to combine. While you are pulsing, gradually stream olive oil into food processor, creating a mostly smooth texture.

Taste your hummus, add salt and pepper as needed, pulse/blend again then transfer to a bowl when you have reached your desired flavor.

Prepare your salad by first making your dressing. In a lidded jar, combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. Seal and shake very well. Let sit.

In a medium bowl, combine cucumber, tomato, bell pepper and onion. Put your lettuce in another larger bowl. Just before service, shake your dressing again then drizzle on top of lettuce and vegetables individually. Toss to ensure even coverage.

Note: I like to toss them separately so when you plate, everyone is ensured an equal amount of everything.

On a plate, arrange falafel, a dollop of hummus and vegan pita, if you want it. To arrange your salad, start by portioning lettuce onto the plate(s). Top lettuce with piles of dressing tossed veggies. Finish with kalamata olives.

You can also serve this all family style.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Vegan Pumpkin Eggnog French Toast

Woman of many hats is finding that her hats are so 'many' that they're falling off her head.

I have been so busy I haven't had time to sit down and tell you about the delicious new products So Delicious sent to me.
Coconut Eggnog, what? Oh yeah! And you know what else? Mint Chocolate Coconut Milk. Yes indeed. That stuff is so good I can't keep it out of Noodle's hands, straight up.
So this last weekend was another of those 'are you crazy?' physical challenge races. And when I say physical challenge, I am not referring to the Marc Summers 'you'll get slimed' if you don't finish in time. I'm talking about the climbing really steep walls, wading through drainage pipes, sliding down muddy mountains type of physical challenge.
Remember the Warrior Dash? Well, this weekend was the Gladiator Rock n' Run. Shorter mileage, more obstacles. Tough obstacles. And as if my back weren't enough (though it's much better), I now have bronchitis! So crazy me ran the race with bronchitis. And then, just for kicks, dressed up as Olivia Newton John so my Richard Simmons wouldn't feel left out. We're weird.
All that calls for a carb load breakfast. One featuring two of my favorite holiday items: pumpkin and nog. And So Delicious? You hit it out of the park with your coconut nog. Um. Yum. Not only is it great to drink with rum by itself or in your coffee, it makes a great addition to recipes because of it's thick consistency and deliciously nog flavor.
So I took a note from the gang at So Delicious and tried their eggnog french toast recipe included in my goody box. Except I took it one further and added pumpkin because I'm crazy like that. And it was equally as good. Crazy good.
Thanks guys!
Adapted from a recipe courtesy of So Delicious
Yield: about 8-10 slices french toast
1 ripe banana, smashed
1/2 cup cooked pumpkin (canned or fresh)
1 1/2 cups So Delicious Coconut Nog
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
8-10 slices Dave's Killer Bread (The. Best. There is no other for us. Really.)
Earth Balance
Cinnamon Sugar (optional)
Syrup (optional)
In a bowl, mash banana really really well until you have a paste with very few lumps. Add pumpkin and Coconut nog and stir to combine.
Add cinnamon and vanilla and stir to combine again.
Heat your griddle to fairly high heat and add a pat of Earth Balance.
When griddle is hot. Dip the first side of your bread into your nog mixture. Flip and dip again. Before putting on griddle, gently shake/wipe some of the excess batter off. I found this helped with the cooking process.
Cook on one side until golden brown then flip and repeat.
You can top your french toast with a light shake of cinnamon sugar or syrup, though I didn't think it really needed anything on top. Maybe a little more Earth Balance.
Serve with a little Smart Balance bacon and fruit and you're ready to conquer giant wooden walls, drainage pipes or taking your child to kindergarten.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Quinoa Sunflower Stuffed Squash

This week's CSA had to be one of my favorites. I love every week but this week was packed with all sorts of wonderful wintry veggies and two of my favorite recipes thus far.

Amy, our CSA maven, raved about the Quinoa Sunflower Stuffing recipe she included.

A recipe from 3 Bowls by Seppo Ed Farrey; and then she took it one step further and suggested stuffing the celebration squash with it. And when she said 'so yummy!' she wasn't kidding.

I made a few changes to the stuffing and roasting of the squash, but it's basically the same. And delicious.

It's a perfect vegan recipe for the upcoming holidays, or for simply enjoying on a weeknight.

Yield: 4 squash halves (with stuffing left over for eating)

2 celebration squash, halved and cleaned
About 2 Tablespoons plus 2 Tablespoons toasted seame oil
3/4 cup dry quinoa
1 1/2 cups water
1 Tablespoon Bragg's liquid aminos
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, diced fine
10-12 oz shitake mushrooms, roughly chopped
3-4 celery sticks, chopped fine
3 medium carrots, chopped fine
2 teaspoons dried sage
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
1 cup raw sunflower seeds
About 1 cup breadcrumbs
About 1/2 to 3/4 cup Daiya 'mozzarella' cheese

Preheat oven to 375.

Halve celebration squash and scoop seeds/clean the center hole. Drizzle a little toasted sesame oil onto the squash then evenly rub it all over. Place squash face down on a baking sheet and bake  for about 50-60 minutes. Remove from oven but leave oven on unless you are prepping them ahead of time.

Meanwhile, in a pot, bring the water and tamari to a boil. Add quinoa and cook per instructions: Boil for about 1-2 minutes then reduce to a simmer and cover. Let cook until all liquid is soaked up, checking and stirring to ensure even cooking. When all liquid is soaked up, turn off heat and let sit.

While your squash and quinoa are cooking, prepare your stuffing:

In a large saute pan, heat sesame oil over med/high heat and add onion and garlic. Cook for about 2-3 minutes then add mushrooms. Continue to cook, stirring until mushrooms are just soft. About 3-5 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium and add celery and carrot. Stir and cook another 3-5 minutes.

Add sage, basil, fennel, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper. Stir and let cook another minute or so. AFter a minute or so, taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

Add cooked quinoa and sunflower seeds to your veg mix and stir. Add salt and pepper as needed.

Flip your squash over and stuff the cavity generously with your stuffing, pressing stuffing down as you go.

Top with breadcrumbs and a little Daiya 'mozzarella' cheese.

Return to oven and bake about 15-20 minutes.

This is a hearty and filling main dish but can also serve as a beautiful side dish. Amy was right... it's delicious!!


Monday, October 24, 2011

Vegan Winter Veggie Egg Rolls

As healthy as I cook (most of the time) I must admit that I do crave the bad stuff every once in a while.

I have a weakness for french fries, egg rolls, onion rings and other foods of the fried variety. I have considered, on several different occassions, purchasing a fryer to have at home.

On all occassions I have refrained because I just know that would lead to me becoming the next Paula Dean. I am sure I would love it so much I would have to have an even awesomer one installed permanently next to my stove.

I can just see it. I'd be frying everything. That would be a big mistake. My midsection would surely not thank me.

And so when my willpower wins and I absolutely must have something salty and fried, I bake it. Because it makes me feel better about eating it. Like it's healthier or something. It is.

So I had all this random veg in the fridge and my new favorite thing to do is to cuisinart it. And then I thought egg rolls sounded good so I picked up some wonton wrappers and rolled some up.

Once you have the veg processed, the meal is really quite simple. Especially when baking because they essentially cook themselves, with little babysitting by the chef.

They are crunchy and salty on the outside and soft and tender with the veggies on the inside. A perfect compromise.

Yield: about 8-16 rolls, depending on how large and whether or not you want left over veg. I had leftover veg and used it for another fun recipe... it's coming.

2 carrots, cut into about 1 inch pieces
1 leek, cut into about 1 inch pieces
2 sticks celery, cut into about 1 inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, peeled and cut in half
1 small red onion, peeled and quartered
2-3 leaves kale, de-stemmed and cut into smaller pieces
1 red bell pepper, quartered
1 green bell pepper, quartered
1 large jalapeno pepper, quartered
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and cut in half
1 small bunch fresh parsley, roughly chopped
2-3 Tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 Tablespoons Bragg's amino acid
8-16 Large won ton wrappers (depending on how many you want to make)
For the sauce:
1 Tablespoon Bragg's amino acid
1 Tablespoon chili sauce
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar

Place carrots, leek, celery, onion and garlic in a food processor. Pulse until all the veg is chopped into a very rough yet even consistency. Transfer to a bowl.

In the food processor, combine kale, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, jalapeno, ginger and parsley. Pulse until veg is the same consistency as the previous mixture. Transfer to another bowl. Note: if you don't want to dirty another bowl, you can also just leave it in the food processor for a bit.

In a large saute pan, heat toasted sesame oil over medium high heat. Add carrot mixture and stir. Let cook about 2-3 minutes.

After a few minutes of cooking, add the kale/bell pepper veggie mix and Bragg's amino acid to the pan, stir and continue to cook.

Cover mixture, turn the heat down just a bit and allow to cook over medium heat for about 8-10 minutes, stirring every minute or so.

Turn heat off when veggies are just soft. Not mushy and not rock hard. Let veggies sit for a bit. Note: there should be liquid in the pan with the veggies.

Once lightly cooled, transfer batches of the veggies into a strainer placed over a bowl. Press liquid out of veggies, catching the liquid in the bowl.

Once you have pressed the liquid out, set it aside for the sauce.

Preheat oven to 350 and grab a little bowl of water. Put it next to your rolling station.

To roll, place one wonton wrapper on the counter, pointy side toward you.

Scoop about 4 Tablespoons of your veggie mixture onto the top third of the wonton wrapper.

Fold smaller top portion of the wrapper over the filling then fold the sides in.

From there, finish rolling, pressing and tightening as you go. When you get toward the end, dip your finger in the bowl of water and line the ending edges with water. This will make the wrapper to stick to itself.

Repeat for all rolls. Note: I made about eight rolls and had filling left over. And I made something simple and fun with the leftover veggie mix so if you have extra, don't worry about it. You can use it!

Place each finished roll on a baking sheet. When you have all your rolls on the sheet, drizzle lightly with toasted sesame oil then roll the rolls around, ensuring they are completely covered with oil. Sprinkle rolls with a little sea salt.

Bake in oven for about 8 minutes then rotate half way and bake another 8 minutes. Rotate again, to an unbaked side and bake for 5 minutes then rotate onto the last side and bake another 5 minutes.

While your rolls are baking, prepare dipping sauce:

In a lidded jar, combine the juice you pressed out of the veggies, 1 Tablespoon Bragg's amino acids, 1 Tablespoon chili sauce, 2 teaspoons sesame oil and 1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar.

Cover and shake well. Remove lid, taste and add Bragg's and/or chili sauce as needed.

When rolls are done, turn off oven and transfer to a serving platter.

Family style, with the sauce in a side dish or portion out individually on plates.

These are a great little appetizer or light meal. I served them with a simple tofu and green vegetable stir fry and it was just lovely.



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