Saturday, 28 June 2014

Baked Buffalo Chick'n & Tofu Ricotta Stuffed Shells

Here's a little secret; I'm kind of oblivious. Like, really really oblivious. I can notice something relatively small and inconsequential, and yet I'll miss something blaringly obvious. I could tell you heaps of examples but then I'd just start feeling bad about myself and abandon this whole blog post. So for the sake of this recipe, instead I'll just tell you why I'm letting you in on this secret. 

I thought I bought faux chicken strips, but it was veggie ground chick'n. It was discounted so I bought all that was left. It was a good deal! The problem? What the hell was I going to do with 5lbs of veggie ground chick'n? 

The answer my friends, buffalo chick'n & cheez stuffed pasta shells. They're creamy and rich and have a wicked kick with the hot sauce. You're welcome. 

Tofu Ricotta:
1 package of firm tofu
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil

Drain and press the tofu to get as much of the liquid out as possible. I wrapped mine in a tea towel and just hand squeezed. If you have a tofu press, good for you fancy pants. 

In a food processor pulse the dried tofu with all other ingredients and you're done! Wasn't that easy? :) Set uncovered in the fridge while you prep the rest. 

1 package of jumbo shell pasta
2 packages of veggie ground chick'n 
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup of buffalo hot sauce
A 9 x 13 lasagne pan/baking dish

In a frying pan, heat oil and brown the chick'n. You could and add onions or celery or other stuff but I didn't. Once it's browned add in the buffalo hot sauce and remove from heat. Place covered in a bowl and refrigerate until completely cooled. 

While the mixtures are cooling, pre-heat oven to 375 and boil water to cook the pasta shells. You will want to leave them al dente or they will be really mushy after you bake them. When they're ready drain and set aside. 

Mix the ricotta mixture with the chick'n mixture and spoon into pasta shells. Repeat and arrange in the lasagne dish. It's ok if they're crowded. 

Once the dish is full, bake for 20-25 minutes and then enjoy! 

You can add shredded Daiya on top if you like it, I just drizzled more hot sauce. 


Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Caramel, Bourbon, Cheezecake. SOLD!

Bourbon? Yes.  Caramel? YES! On Vegan Cheezcake? Oh HECK YES!

Once in a while I get adventurous and try to veganize something that is really ambitious. Most of the time I go into it with the expectation that it will probably end up in the compost whilst I swear up a storm. Maybe even a few tears. Lucky for all of us, this latest experiment turned out to be Heaven on Earth. The only tears were tears of joy!

There are lots of vegan cheezcake recipes out there, but one in particular caught my eye. Thanks to The Minimalist Baker I got the base for a creamy, dreamy, super-duper cheezcake. It wasn't until I got to the Bourbon Caramel part of the recipe that my heart sank a little. Heavy cream? Dang!

Sidenote: There is nothing more frustrating than websites that are a mixed bag of recipe types.Sometimes I read recipe names and by the time I'm salivating and clicking away I realize that there's little to no chance of veganizing well...sigh...

One of the staples in our fridge is canned full-fat coconut milk. When you refrigerate full fat coconut milk the coconut cream will separate from the coconut water and you can do so many things with it. Add a little agave/maple/sugar or vanilla and whip it up. Few things beat coconut whipped cream. Then with the coconut water, save it and use it in smoothies. Delicious! Anyhow, I figured it was worth a try.


2-3 tbsp bourbon
1 cup organic cane sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup coconut cream

On medium heat, in a heavy flat bottomed pan add the sugar and water. DO NOT USE A UTENSIL. "Swirl" the pan around in clockwise and counter clockwise circles to keep the mix moving. If you don't do this, it will burn. The mixture should bubble and eventually brown. When it has a rich caramel colour remove from heat and stir in the coconut cream and bourbon. Return to warm element (It shouldn't be on, just warm) and using a silicon spatula stir and mix liquid well. Once it's all mixed well, pour it into a glass container and put in the fridge. It will be pretty thin right now, but in an hour or so it will be thick and caramelly. Resist the urge to pour it down your throat, but I won't judge you if you do. :)

Once your cheezcakes are set, top with this amazing vegan bourbon caramel and inhale!

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Roasted Red Peppers!

Roasted red peppers are a staple in our house. They're great cold, hot, in a dish or on their own. Did you know how easy they are to make? Seriously! All you need is a large cookie sheet, some tin foil and a large mason jar.

Turn on your oven broiler to high.

Slice the peppers into quarters, and trim them so that they lay flat, skin side up.

Cover the cookie sheet with tin foil and arrange the peppers skin side up, close to one another but not overlapping. Broil for 10-15 minutes watching closely until all of the skins are evenly blackened. You may need to turn the cookie sheet or use tongs to rearrange depending on how your oven broils. 

When they are evenly blackened, remove from the oven and wrap tightly in the foil. This is to steam and soften the peppers. After about 30 minutes, open the foil and the skins will slide right off. :)

After the skins are shed, simply place in a mason jar and refrigerate for up to a month. They never last that long in our house! 

PS- I usually also broil zucchini and eggplant in addition. Roasted veggies are so versatile and with just a little olive oil they're healthy too! 

Suggested uses:
- Slice and add into pasta dishes
- Layer onto a sandwich with Vegenaise and other roasted veggies
- Top your fave pizza
- On it's own as an antipasti 

Happy broiling!

Thursday, 5 June 2014

You can't win friends with salad, or can you?

Now that summer is here and we are all out of hibernation, it seems that our social calendar has exploded! Does this happen to anyone else? Increasingly I find myself looking 4-6 weeks ahead to book time to "relax" with friends. Because of this it seems we are always planning everything. My iPhone calendar is synced with my better half and if something doesn't get entered, it literally doesn't exist. What does this have to do with vegan food? Read on, friends!

I'm sure we aren't the only family with a freezer full of veggie burgers and veggie dogs on stand-by for the "Oh shit! I forgot that was tomorrow" BBQ, or the "I'm on strike, I'm not cooking" lunch/dinner. (Or just a regular day - I'm not judging!) But if you're anything like me (God help you and your family...) veggie burgers and veggie dogs just don't hit the spot on their own. So today I am going to talk about my favourite side dishes that are easy to make large batches of on the fly. We all know that while

Potato Salad:
There are so many types of potato salad, how do I choose? Let's start with my basic rules. 

1. Potatoes!
Red skinned potatoes are my fave, so they are all I work with. I'm sure there are others, but they pale in comparison and aren't worthy of my attention.  I'm stubborn like that. And by stubborn, I mean awesome.

2. Texture!
I hate pasty, mushy potato salad. I like there to be a ratio of 4:1 for firm potato to mushed potato. In addition, I also require crunch and another variable texture. Acceptable add-ins to achieve the desired texture(s) include, but are not limited to; green onions, red onions, chopped jalapenos, corn, relish, chopped dill pickle, chopped peppers and chopped kale.
Tip: BBQ the corn, peppers or jalapenos to add extra depth!

3. Flavour & Colour!
The only thing that rivals pasty, mushy potato salad for the worst ever is pasty, mushy, flavourless potato salad. Lucky for you, if you're reading this post and are taking my advice to heart, you've added texture from my handy-dandy list which also conveniently adds flavour AND colour. Damn you're good. 

4. Sauce!
If you read the last post, you know what sauce means to me. It can make or break the potato salad. I have good news, and bad news. Much to the chagrin of my family, I've never made the same potato salad twice. Partly because when I make it I'm using up the dregs of the fridge (appetizing huh?) but more accurately because I'm not paying attention. The good news is that every time I've made it it's been delicious! A good potato salad dressing MUST include the following: Vegenaise, Mustard (Dijon, Bold 'n Spicy, Plain, etc.) and apple cider vinegar. Just close your eyes, spoon indiscriminately and  hope for the best!

Creamy or vinaigrette? I'm 50/50 on this one. If it's creamy, it must have raisins and heat, though. Check out my recipe from my previous blog post for Jalapeno Wasabi Slaw. As a bonus, that's also my rib recipe link. 
The thing about vinaigrette's is that they require a lot of sugar. Unless you like to pucker up from the vinegar, but I for one can't afford any more wrinkles! I think I lied to you. I just changed my vote to creamy all the way!

Coleslaw isn't always ideal for making the day that company is coming because it often tastes a heck of a lot better the next day. But in a pinch, dress your slaw, put it in a sealed container and flip upside down to store. That way there's less mixing to do when you turn it upright. 

Chick'n Salad
This is actually a recipe that I find revolting, but my family loves it. In the interest of freedom and democracy and all that other good stuff, here goes...but don't way I didn't warn you. It's also super quick and easy to make.  President's Choice makes vegan chick'n breasts. You can bake, broil, BBQ, microwave or fry them. Once cooked, you can either hand tear them or chop them into 1" cubes. Here comes the texture, colour and flavour again! Salt and pepper the plain chick'n. Add in chopped red onions, green relish and stir well. Now mix in vegenaise, mustard and a healthy bounty of fresh dill. Eat alone or on sandwiches. Enjoy!

Cold Rolls <-- This is an old post of mine. Cold rolls are a solid go-to because you can fill them with anything you've got. Glass noodles, veggies, pickled ginger. Go nuts. 

Raw Beet Citrus Salad: <-- This has been a fave recipe of mine for years. If you don't already know, shredded raw beets are the bomb. So sweet and crunchy, and the orange pairs amazingly. 

Moroccan Carrot Salad <-- This is another great salad if you want to try something different. The combination of spices are sure to please a mature crowd :)

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Sauce; The Final Frontier

If you're anything like me, sauce is everything. It can make or break a dish. It needs to have depth, the right texture and consistency and of course - HEAT! OK, now I know not everyone has a penchant for spice, but the beauty of all recipes is that you can increase or decrease any ingredients that you'd like! Seriously. Love garlic? Double it! Wimpy taste buds? Half the chili flakes!

At Niagara Vegfest I was lucky enough to run into an old friend (hi Deb!) who mentioned to me that finding a good base sauce was where she struggled. So I figured I'd make an entire blog post dedicated to my top sauce go to's. In no particular order...

1. Dreamy Cream Sauce.

This isn't an actual sauce. But if you want something that is ULTRA creamy you need to look no further than soaked cashews. (I usually soak them in a sealed bowl of boiling water for 10 minutes while I prep. If you have lots of time, good for you. Soak them overnight.) Make sure you buy the raw, unsalted.

The key is that you need a blender/bullet with a nut blade so that it doesn't have any small chunks left. For every one cup of cashews, blend with one cup of water or broth. If you want it thinner, just add more liquid. On its own it's a great base for cream of "anything" soups.  Once you have your basic cream, then you can add in the flavour for other dishes!

Add in some garlic, parsley and vegan Parmesan.

Add in some lemon juice, nooch, mustard and onion powder

The possibilities are endless. Blend it with roasted red peppers. Or cut the liquid in half and add jalapenos to make a kick-ass dip. Play around! If the dip doesn't work, add some corn, cilantro, beans and broth and make a Mexican-style soup. Have fun!

2. BBQ Sauce.

BBQ sauce is so easy to make you'll never buy it again. That's not true. You'll just learn to quadruple the recipes and bottle it while rationing each drop. Then again, not everyone is a sauce-whore like I am. Seriously, I'll do anything for sauce.....

Moving along...

A BBQ sauce base is tomato (sauce or ketchup. If you go with sauce, you'll likely want to add sugar), onion powder, garlic, lemon juice/vinegar, mustard (powder or wet is fine). I always like to add brown sugar and whiskey into mine because, let's be honest -  sugar and whiskey make everything better. If it's too thin, just add tomato paste. Too thick, no such thing.

What can you do with this amazing BBQ sauce base now that you've made a gallon of it? Well, let me tell you. It is a great beginning for:

Sloppy Joe's:
Mix the BBQ sauce base with some fire roasted tomatoes and molasses. Add in your joe mix (lentils, TVP, veggie ground round) and slop away friends!

Pulled Not-Pork:
You can buy soy curls, or make your own wheat meat to sauce. Great on mashed potatoes or sliders.

BBQ Seitan Ribs:
If you haven't seen my previous post about seitan ribs - go find it and read it now. Then head to the grocery store and buy all the ingredients. Make this for dinner. Crunchy, saucy, heaven. You're welcome.

3. Curry.

Curry should be renamed to something more regal. Because it's fricking amazing. You can buy curry paste, and curry powder. I usually like to mix them up. There is nothing you can't do with curry.

Dice and fry up some onions and veggies, sprinkle (drown) with curry powder and paste and then add in soft or silken tofu. Scramble, top with fresh scallions, top on toast and inhale.

Coconut curry red lentil soup. One of my faves. Fry some diced up onions, add garlic and some nutmeg and both curries and when 2/3 cooked add in 2:1 coconut milk and vegetable broth. Add in one or one and a half cups of rinsed red lentils and a tablespoon or two of tomato paste. Let simmer for 20 minutes and then eat it all in one sitting.

Stew that sticks to your ribs is exactly what we need in Canada during our 8 months of winter. You know what stews amazing? Butternut squash and spinach. Throw in some chick peas and you've got yourself a pot of heaven.

4. Ethiopian "Berbere" 

I recently made my own spice blend and I'm really, REALLY glad that I quadrupled the recipe. Seriously. I made a half litre of the dry mix. It it super spicy, but has such depth. It is great for marinades, bbq, stews and more. Check out my previous post for Ethiopian Stew and you'll find the recipe.

5. Vegenaise

I'm sure I'm not the only one who is overdependent on vegenaise. I know I should be sorry, but I'm not. You know why? Because THIS:

Add lime juice, cilantro and sriracha into a base of vegenaise. Now put it on sandwiches, dip your chips into it, or eat it with a spoon.

Mix 2:1 vegenaise and a bold mustard. Add in some lemon juice and crunchy fried onions. (Costco sells a massive bag, full of carcinogens but vegan!) Again, chips are optional for dipping. You may just prefer to eat with a spoon.

I'm sure there's more and as I think of them I'll try to remember to update this blog. Until then, go make sauce! SAUCE ALL THE THINGS!


Monday, 2 June 2014

So Sloppy, Sloppy Joe!

Holy mackerel it's been a long time since I've blogged! So much has happened! I swear I'm not just slacking, I swear! 

I had a bakesale for the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale, which was AWESOME! R&R Cafe was super super amazing and let me take over for a day and between the cafe sales and home sales I was able to donate $900 to Cedar Row Farm Sanctuary. ❤️️👍

Then it was time to gear up for Niagara Veg Fest! I baked my little heart out and made about 350 Macaroons! Good grief!! Once they were all stuffed into a bin they looked so sad and cramped! Poor BB's. Eventually most were eaten, which is a strangely better fate. 

Now, let's get to the sloppy joes! You'll have to forgive me and use some of your own judgement because I'm not 100% sure how these happened but hot darn they were good! 

So Sloppy, Sloppy Joes!

Onions, diced
Peppers, diced
Fire roasted tomatoes
Green lentils, rinsed, boiled and "ready"
Garlic salt
Smoked paprika 
Powdered Habanero (aka THE FOOD OF THE GODS!!! I add it into everything!)
Vegetable oil 
BBQ sauce (I used a no name plain)
Black Strap molasses 

Sauté the onions and peppers in the olive oil and add the spices. Use as much as you like. I used Swedish chef amounts. (Mutter "horgy porgy" and toss in indiscriminately until you feel you've added enough) Reserve the habanero!

Then add in the fire roasted tomato and lentils and stir well. Douce with BBQ sauce and molasses. I did a ratio of about 4:1, respectively. 

Shake the habanero on top and let cook down on medium heat for 10-15 minutes. The sauce will thicken, but if it doesn't you can always add a tablespoon of tomato paste. 

I had previously made the cole slaw. It was in a basic vinaigrette which was a mix of:

Apple cider vinegar
Raw cane sugar
Bold mustard
Vegetable oil
Garlic powder... And I think that's it. Haha

The final product? Once the Joe mix was spooned over a whole wheat toasted bun... TA DA!!