Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Now on Facebook! New recipes!

Hi friends,

Just popping in to say you can now find and follow Little House On The Vegan Prairie on Facebook! You can stay up to date with all the latest LHOTVP recipes and soon to come happy vegan restaurant outings.  Please "like" the page and "share" it with your friends.

Here's the link: https://www.facebook.com/LittleHouseOnTheVeganPrairie

And if you haven't already checked out the new blog over at WordPress, please do!: http://veganprairiefood.wordpress.com/

New recipes include: Blueberry Walnut Waffles, Easy Peanut Butter Cream Pie with Chocolate Cookie Crust, Plantain and Avocado Rolls with Spicy Cilantro Dipping Sauce, and Herbed Mashed Potatoes with Teriyaki Gardein Beefless Tips.


Thanks for your support! Happy vegan eating and living!



Sunday, May 1, 2011

I've moved!

Friends and fellow vegan foodies!

I've decided to move my blog over to WordPress. I really like the easy format of the blogs on WordPress and the options for bloggers, etc. I will keep this blog open for some time. At least until I can figure out a way to re-direct all clicks to it over to WordPress. Until then, here's a direct link to my new home -- please subscribe to my blog, bookmark it, follow it, and share it with your friends!

Blog: http://veganprairiefood.wordpress.com/

Try out my newest recipes!:

Easy Peanut Butter Cream Pie with Chocolate Cookie Crust

"Beef" and Barley Stuffed Peppers


Love and respect animals! Eat with your heart, mind, and stomach! Go vegan!
Melody

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Carrot Cake Muffins with Vegan Cream Cheese Top Filling


Here's a little tip of the hat to one of the recipes I'm most known for among friends -- my carrot cake oatmeal cookies. I'll get around to posting those little lovelies someday, but for now here's a little something more "suitable" for breakfast, or if you're like me, this is somewhat of a "wholesome" dessert. They're really more like cupcakes than muffins, but since they're not loaded with frosting, I'm not quite sure they can win it in the cupcake category. Either way, they are sweet and delicious, especially for the carrot cake aficionados like me. These are sure to please. Happy baking!

Ingredients:
makes 12 muffins

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 cup organic/vegan sugar
3 flax eggs (3 tbsp ground flax seeds whisked with 6 tbsp water)
2/3 cup canola oil
3/4 cup almond milk
1 1/2 cup (packed) shredded carrots, from about 3 large carrots
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup raisins

Cream cheese filling:

4 oz Vegan cream cheese, softened -- just let it sit out at room temperature (Try: Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese or Galaxy Foods Vegan Cream Cheese)
1 Ener-G egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup organic/vegan sugar

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Line 12  standard sized muffin tins with cupcake liners. Spray lightly with canola oil and set aside.

Soak the raisins in warm water for 10 minutes and then drain them and set them aside. This will soften them up. Shred the carrots in a food processor fitted with a shredding blade, or with a hand grater. Use your hands to squeeze all the juice from the carrots. You want them to be as dry as possible so you don't add more liquid to the recipe. Don't throw away the carrot juice, drink it! Or give it to your dog!

In a large bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar. Set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, combine the flax eggs, oil, and almond milk. Whisk until well combined and smooth. Fold in the carrots, walnuts, and raisins.

Incorporate the flax/oil/milk mixture into the flour mix slowly and mix well until a batter forms. Set aside.

Combine all ingredients for the cream cheese filling and beat with a rubber spatula until smooth, but thick and creamy.

Spoon the muffin batter into the muffin cups and fill each cup about 3/4 of the way full. Drop a heaping teaspoon of the cream cheese filling on top of each muffin. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the cake part of the muffin comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool in muffin tray for about 5 minutes before moving to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Vegan American Chop Suey


I've recently been told that my food is "fancy." I'm not sure if I'm to take this as a compliment or as a comment on having "complicated" or "involved" recipes. Or maybe the people who say this just eat veggie dogs and Amy's frozen dinners, I don't know. I've certainly never thought that the recipes I've posted are at all fancy or involved, otherwise I probably wouldn't be making them. I just don't have that kind of time...or know-how! I just like to cook. And I like to take pictures that aptly depict the wonderful taste of the food. Sometimes that involves a wine glass in the background, I guess.

In any case, here's a very un-fancy dish. I promised myself I wouldn't post "basic" recipes because I feel like most people who want this kind of food can easily find it elsewhere by doing an internet search. I also want to try to avoid using prepackaged vegan meat substitutes because some people can't find them easily and they're not exactly typical of a healthy vegan diet and can be misleading to non-vegans. Nonetheless, here's a satisfying quickie for all you busy moms, hungry students, and just plain ol' lazy bones like me: American Chop Suey. I've seen this recipe made so many different ways. Traditionally, with green or red pepper. I didn't have either so, I made it with sun-dried tomatoes, portobello mushrooms, and a roasted pepper pasta sauce. I also added nutritional yeast in place of parmesan cheese. It makes the dish a little more gooey and delicious. You can find the meatless grounds for this dish at almost all major grocery stores.  The Yves brand uses non genetically modified soy, by the way.

Until today, when I spoke to a west coast native, I had no idea this was an east coast dish so, there you are, west coast friends. Eat up! But don't expect me to do New England Vegan "Clam" Chowder or "Lobster" Bisque next...that's fancy.

Ingredients:
Serves 2 - 3

1 1/2 cups elbow, fusilli, or small shell pasta, cooked al dente
1/2 package of meatless "beef" crumbles (Try: Lightlife Smart Ground Original or Yves Meatless Ground Round Original)
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 portobello mushroom top, chopped thickly into squares
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 cup pasta sauce
1 tbsp dried oregano
2 to 3 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
salt and pepper, to taste
olive oil

Directions:

Cook the pasta according to package instructions.

Heat a non-stick skillet on medium high heat. Add about 3 tbsp of olive oil and saute the garlic for about 1 minute. Add the onions and saute for about 3 to 4 minutes more. Next, add the mushrooms and cook for about 5 more minutes, stirring frequently. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, and meatless crumbles next, stirring to incorporate everything well. Then add the dried oregano. Cook for about 6 to 8 minutes, stirring, until everything is well heated. Next add the pasta sauce and salt and pepper. Continue stirring and cooking until the pasta sauce is well heated, about 5 minutes.

Immediately pour the hot contents into a bowl or pot with the pasta and mix until evenly incorporated. Add the nutritional yeast and stir.

Serve and enjoy!

This photo is purposefully not fancy.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Banana Coconut Rum Cake


Look at this cake. Just look at it! You can't go into a sugar coma or gain 5 pounds by just looking at it, but you might if you make it. This cake is so indulgent, so moist (a little more moist and it would be bread pudding), so sweet, and so decadent. And it's my first drunken cake! You might ask what the special occasion is, but I had no reason to make this cake other than wanting to make something sinfully delicious. This is the kind of cake you make when you want to impress someone's family. It's just that good and that beautiful.




As I'll say again and again, I am not a baker. I hope to one day get the hang of making baked goods up on my own, but all I can offer you now is vegan versions of recipes that have already been tried and true. This "Bahama Mama Rum Cake" originally hails from Jill O'Connor's cookbook, "Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey" - a very non-vegan cookbook. I couldn't stand not trying this cake out, so I made some necessary rearrangements to her recipe, including organic sugar and cruelty-free baking soda; both of these being wholly vegan where others are not. The original calls for sour cream, which I substituted with coconut milk as it has the same consistency and even adds a little bit more flavor to the cake. If you're against coconut milk, you could certainly use Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream. Also, for a a little added kick, I used spiced rum rather than regular or dark. According to Barnivore, Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum is vegan. So go ahead, indulge! Enjoy!







Ingredients:
Rum Glaze:
1/2 cup Earth Balance Buttery Sticks (1 stick)
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup firmly packed organic dark brown sugar
1/2 cup Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum (other vegan rum will do)
The Cake:
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans, toasted 
1 1/2 cups Earth Balance Buttery Sticks (3 sticks)
2 cups granulated organic sugar
1 cup firmly packed organic dark brown sugar
5 Ener-G eggs: 7 and 1/2 tsps egg replacer with 10 tbsp water
1 cup very ripe bananas (about 3 medium sized), mashed
2 tsps pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda (I used Bob's Red Mill)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup coconut milk
Directions: 
First make the glaze. Combine the Earth Balance butter, water, and sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the rum. Set aside, cover, and keep warm.
For the cake, preheat the oven to 350 F. If using whole pecans, chop them or alternatively, place them in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse them a few times until they are chopped into small pieces, but not pulverized. Measure out the amount of pecans after chopping. Toast them for about 5 to 6 minutes in a glass oven safe dish. Remove from the oven and set aside. Next, grease a 10 cup bundt pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle the pecans in the bottom of the pan. This will create quite a deep layer of nuts, but it will work out okay, trust me.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on low speed, beat together the butter and sugars until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in Ener- G eggs, pouring them in a little at a time, mix well after each addition. Beat in the mashed bananas, vanilla, and rum. Sift the flour, baking osda, baking powder, and salt over the batter and fold it in using a rubber spatula, until well combined. Fold in the coconut milk.  Spoon the batter over the pecans in the pan and spread the batter evenly on top using a rubber spatula.
Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean about 60 - 80 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let it cool for 5 minutes. 
Use a toothpick or wooden skewer to poke holes all over the cake. Pour 1/4 cup of the warm glaze over the cake. Let the cake cool for 5 more minutes. Next, place a serving platter over the pan and invert the pan to release the cake onto the platter. Spoon the remaining glaze over the cake, a little at a time, and let  it stand until the glaze is completely absorbed into the cake. As the glaze hardens, it will form a light coat of rum-sugary goodness over the cake.
Let the cake cook completely before serving (if you served warm, it's not only incredibly delicious, it becomes more like a rummy bread pudding).

Monday, March 14, 2011

Sweet Potato Baked Mac and Cheese: Three ways!


It's been a rough week. Sorry to be a Debbie Downer, but this much needed week long vacation just couldn't come soon enough. I recently had a death in the family and after days of funeral/wake attendances and seeing my family mourn, I just needed some serious comfort food. Baked macaroni and cheese is my most favorite food in this category. Growing up, I was a big fan of the blue Kraft box and had no clue one could bake mac and cheese. Now I know better than to eat that junk and make a healthier, just as tasty (or tastier - depending on how you look at it) version. Of course, there's no animal based cheese in this meal, but you will easily be fooled and won't even mind that it's not there! And perhaps, you won't get that bogged down, tired feeling one gets after eating dairy. If you do, well, kick back and get comfy and rejoice in knowing that your comfort is not at anyone else's expense.

Note: I used jumbo shell pasta for this recipe, but since the recipe is mainly for the cheese sauce, you can use whatever pasta you want, including the traditional "elbow" mac which you see pictured here or a gluten free pasta. The veggies are also optional and interchangeable. I also found that the sauce alone makes a great cheese dip (not pictured) that can be served hot or cold. So think of it for your next party!

Ingredients:
(serves 4 to 6)

1 box jumbo shell pasta
1 medium to large sweet potato
2 - 3 broccoli crowns, chopped (optional)
1 cup frozen peas, thawed (optional)
1/2 cup bread crumbs (I used the Trader Joe's brand, buy Panko, or make your own with toasted bread)

Sauce:
1 3/4 cup almond milk (or your favorite non-dairy milk)
1/8 cup water
1 tbsp juice of a lemon
1 tbsp tahini
1 tsp white miso paste
1 tsp mustard powder
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt (more if you like it saltier)
black pepper, to taste

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 F and bake the sweet potato. This will take 40 to 50 minutes. Alternatively, you can bake it in a microwave.

In a blender or food processor, combine all of the sauce ingredients and blend well. When the sweet potato is done, scoop out the potato from the skin and add it to the bowl of the food processor. Blend again until the mixture is uniform and smooth. You may need to add a little more almond milk or water if it is too thick. It shouldn't be too runny, but it also shouldn't be a paste, in other words, it should be pourable, but thick.

Boil the pasta according to the directions on the box. In a small sauce pan, add a thin layer of water and steam the broccoli and peas for about 5 - 6 minutes. Drain the liquid and set aside.

Pour a thin layer of the cheese sauce into a 9 x 12 inch casserole dish (or a smaller round one if you are not using stuffing shells). Place the shells into the dish, in one layer, open side up. Put about 1 heaping teaspoon of sauce in each shell, then stuff each shell with some of the broccoli and peas. Pour the remainder of the cheese sauce on top and then top with the bread crumbs. If you are not using shells, just mix the pasta, veggies, and sauce together in the casserole dish.


Cover and bake at 350 F for 30 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Alternatively, if not using shelled pasta, you could forgo baking and for a "creamier" mac and cheese, heat the dish in a medium sauce pan for  5 - 10 minutes, stirring frequently, then serve.

Unbaked
Baked

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Quinoa Pasta with Roasted Butternut Squash Sauce (gluten free)


Lately, I've been thinking a lot about what "new" vegetarians and vegans eat before they realize that they haven't compromised anything in their dietary habits and that there is an abundance of food available to them. Until I went vegan, there were foods I avoided simply because I didn't know how to cook them and didn't want to risk buying something "gross" or "weird." All I can recall eating excessively in the beginning was pasta and sauce because it was easy, satisfying, and didn't require much thought or preparation.

Well, as they say, old habits die hard and sometimes you just want to eat something simple and satisfying that doesn't come out of the freezer section at the store. And sometimes, as they say, you want to feed to birds with one scone and make something simple with just a touch more class. So here's my new take on the pasta and sauce staple. It's 100% gluten-free, meat/cheese analog free, and goes well served with sauteed kale and broccoli. The sauce recipe makes a little over one standard store-bought pasta jar of sauce so, if you don't use it all up at once, you will have plenty for leftovers!

Ingredients:
(Makes about 4 servings of pasta and 30oz sauce)

1 box Quinoa Pasta (I used pagoda shaped)
1/2 medium sized butternut squash
1 organic red pepper, quartered
1 stalk celery
2 medium organic tomatoes, quartered
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 cup water
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 - 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
2 tbsp raw turbinado sugar
1 tsp dried thyme, crushed
Salt and pepper to taste
1/8 tsp (a pinch!) cayenne pepper
Vegetable oil, for spraying on veggies


Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Cut the butternut squash in half. Remove the seeds from one half. Spray the flesh side with vegetable oil and lay, cut side down, on a non-stick baking pan. Spray the quartered red pepper with oil and place it cut side down on the baking pan. Roast for 40-50 minutes. You may need to remove the red peppers from the oven at the 40 minute mark to prevent them from burning through. If they are somewhat burnt on the edges, that's ok! The butternut squash may take the full 50 minutes!

While your veggies are roasting, prepare the rest of the sauce ingredients. In a food processor fitted with a grating/chopping disk, mince the celery. Remove the chopping disk and put the blade attachment on. Set aside. In a saute pan, place the olive oil and garlic and saute on medium high heat for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Next, add the onion and saute for about 5 more minutes. Sprinkle with a touch of salt. Remove from heat and pour into the bowl of the food processor. Blend until well combined. Add the tomatoes. Blend again.

When your roasted veggies are done, scoop out the butternut squash from the skin and place it in the food processor along with the roasted red pepper. Blend until fully combined. Next, pour all of the ingredients into a medium sauce pan. Add the water, tomato paste, nutritional yeast, and sugar. Cook on medium low stirring constantly for about 5 minutes. Next add the thyme, salt, black pepper, and cayenne.  Stir well. Cover and simmer for another 10 minutes.

Make the pasta according to the package instructions.

Serve alongside sauteed and seasoned kale and broccoli or your favorite veggies. Enjoy!





Saturday, February 12, 2011

Mango-Blackberry-Coconut French Toast


Did I go on a tropical island getaway? No, not so much. Just another Saturday morning in snowy New Hampshire. Saturday mornings have become all about getting up to make a big breakfast, leaving the dishes for later, cuddling with the dog, catching up on Dexter, and not "officially" getting out of bed until noon. Now all I need is someone to come make this for me so, I don't have to get up at all. Until then, here's a quick recipe that won't take away too much of your laze time and proves you don't need dairy or eggs to have a delicious breakfast. What more can I say about french toast? Oh yeah: It's freaking delicious!

Go ahead, have it with a mimosa. You deserve it. It's the weekend.

Ingredients:
(serves 2, or 1 large serving) 

4 slices soft, vegan whole wheat bread (just make sure there's no eggs, dairy, or honey in it)
1 cup almond milk
1 tbsp all purpose flour (arrowroot or cornstarch will do)
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt

Fruit Topping

1 small mango, skin removed and cubed
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/8 tsp coconut extract (or vanilla if you want)
1/4 cup fresh blackberries (frozen is fine, *see directions for instructions)
2 tbsp unsweetened coconut flakes
powdered sugar, sifted, for garnish

Directions:

Cut each slice of bread, vertically into 4 pieces, if desired. Set aside. In a small bowl, toss the mango, syrup and coconut extract together. Set aside. Set the blackberries aside in a small bowl. If using frozen blackberries, thaw them in 2 tbsp warm water and let them soak and turn the water red (you can pour this liquid on the toast when it's done, to turn the syrup the red color shown in the photo). In a shallow bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the batter.

Spray a non-stick pan with oil and heat on medium low. Place the bread in the bowl with the batter, making sure each side, including the edges, is lightly covered. It is very important that you not soak the bread through! Place each slice in the pan and fry until golden brown on each side and crispy. Remove from pan and stack the bread on individual plates, 3 slices laid vertically on the bottom, then 3 on top of that horizontally and so forth. Arrange the fruit topping on top of the bread, sprinkle with coconut flakes and sifted powdered sugar. Serve with additional maple syrup and/or vegan butter if desired. Enjoy!

Curried Asian Sweet Potato Lentil Stew: Two ways!


About a month ago, my wonderful newly vegan mother (I'll never tire of saying that), in an effort to help with my cooking endeavors, cooked a massive amount of brown lentils. And then a few weeks after that, she bestowed me with an Asian sweet potato. Mothers. What would we do without them? Starve, probably. Anyway, since then, I've been saving lentils in my freezer not exactly knowing what to do with them. Since I've never been a fan of lentil soup, I thought that would certainly be out. But then it occurred to me, that the reason I've never liked lentil soup wasn't because I didn't like lentils, the flavors just never appealed to me. So, I decided to get creative and play with the flavor of my favorite cuisine, curry, and this is what came of it!

If you can't find Asian sweet potatoes, that's okay. I think this would be absolutely fabulous with regular sweet potatoes, if not better, as they're much sweeter. Also, you can chose to use vegan bouillon cubes, but if those aren't available to you, feel free to substitute the stock with canned or homemade low sodium vegetable broth instead.

This is delicious and you can serve it however your kind vegan or soon-to-be vegan heart pleases! Also, be aware that this recipe makes a lot. You will have leftovers, so freeze some, have a party or better yet, bring some to your dear ol' mom!

Ingredients:
(makes about 8, 1 cup servings)

4 cups water
2 vegan vegetable bouillon cubes, I used Rapunzel Vegan Vegetable Bouillon with Sea Salt
2 large carrots, cut into 1/2 inch rounds
1 large Asian sweet potato, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
15 oz can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed, reserve 1/2 cup of chickpea liquid prior to rinsing
3 cups cooked lentils
1/4 bunch red kale, de-stemmed and cut into bite sized pieces
2 tbsp curry powder
1/4 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp ground ginger
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions:


In a large stock pot, add the water and bouillon cubes (or just the veggie broth if using) and bring to a boil. Add the carrots, potato, onion and garlic and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes until carrots and potato are tender and can be pierced with a fork. Next, add the chickpeas, the chickpea liquid, and lentils, stir, and simmer for another 10 minutes until the lentils begin to break a part and thicken the soup. Add the kale, spices, salt and pepper, and stir well. Let it simmer for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat, stir, and serve in individual bowls or accompanied with brown basmati rice.

Friday, February 4, 2011

S'mores Pops!

Now all you need is a flashlight and some ghost stories.

It's been snowing like crazy this winter and it's seriously making me feel like summer is never going to get here, let alone spring. One of my favorite activities every year is camping and canoeing with friends along the Saco river in Maine. It always ends up being a memorable time, and part of that good time and any camping trip is: the s'more. So, in a fit of nostalgia and wishful thinking I decided to make a version of the delicious, gooey dessert treat you would eat on a sandy bank along the river or in the deep dark woods of bear country. And let's face it, who doesn't like eating food on a stick? It's virtually mess free! That being said, this is a great treat for kids!

A little note about the ingredients:

This recipe deviates from the original s'more in that I don't toast the marshmallows because that would render them shapeless and too soft to be dipped in the melted chocolate. And, I used Back To Nature Madagascar Vanilla Wafers because vegan graham crackers have proven to be rather elusive for years (almost all brands contain honey). I've been informed by some friends lately that Nabisco makes a graham cracker that is honey-less and that Health Valley makes a vegan amaranth graham cracker that you can find at some Whole Foods stores or online at Vegan Essentials. I can't wait to try them!

You may be wondering, "But what about the chocolate? Is it vegan?" and "Don't marshmallows have gelatin?" The answer to both of these is "yes." But vegan chocolate is available online, at stores like Whole Foods, and virtually anywhere gluten-free foods are sold (many large chain grocery stores have dedicated "gluten free" aisles). I used Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips which can be found in most grocery stores. Vegan marshmallows are a little more tricky. I recommend using Dandies Marshmallows by Chicago Soydairy. They're delicious, they melt in your mouth, and taste like the marshmallows you grew up loving. You can buy them online or use the site to search for a store that carries them near you. Lately, they are becoming more readily available in large specialty grocery stores like Whole Foods.

Now on to the goodies!

Ingredients:

1 package vegan marshmallows (see note)
10 oz semi-sweet vegan chocolate chips
1/2 box vegan vanilla wafers or graham crackers
lollipop sticks (found in bakery/party decoration stores)

Directions:

First, poke a hole through the center of one marshmallow with a lollipop stick. Repeat with two more marshmallows to create a stack of three (or one or two depending on the length of your lollipop sticks). Set aside.


Crush the cookies by putting them in the bowl of a food processor and pulsing until they are finely chopped. Don't go too crazy, you don't want them chopped so fine that you've made cookie flour. Alternatively, you could crumble them with your hands. Pour out the cookie crumbles onto a flat plate and set aside.

Next, in a double boiler, or in a small metal bowl over a sauce pot containing about 3/4 cup water (see picture), melt the chocolate chips, on medium low heat, stirring frequently with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon, to avoid burning. Once the chips are all melted, remove the bowl from the sauce pan immediately and pour the chocolate out onto a flat serving plate.


Roll the sides and the top of the marshmallow in the chocolate sauce, letting any excess drip off. Then roll just the top (or the whole thing if you want) in the cookie crumbles. 


















Place the final product on a piece of wax paper to cool and dry. Or better yet, prop them up in a small bowl that's fitted with something in the center to keep them upright and in place. If you happen to have a block of styrofoam lying around, you can poke them into it. Serve slightly cool and gooey, or refrigerate for 5 minutes so that the chocolate hardens a bit. Either way, enjoy!


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Tofu Vegetable Quiche with Herbed Crust


Look Ma, no eggs! That's right. It's another quiche recipe, this one is bigger and more badass than a mini quiche can ever hope to be. I've got way more things going on this week than there is time in a day so, I have to make sure my mind doesn't wander to the kitchen when it should be studying. Solution? Make a massive quiche and eat quiche for dinner all week. Why the heck not? While most young whipper snapper college students are eating pizza, I'm the old lady who's enjoying a delicious quiche because "it's kind of like pizza." And it is, except it's a lot healthier.

Anyway, here's a tasty, savory, eggless dish that's sure to make your life a lot easier and your dinner guests amazed that it you could accomplish a quiche without eggs. Quiche is not only time efficient and delicious, it's flexible too! Add whatever vegetables you want, or omit the ones you can't stand. The crust recipe is arranged, but adapted from the Healthy Happy Life blog. My only issue with this recipe is that the crust isn't as soft as I would like it to be. I used sorghum flour which can be pretty rough stuff once it's baked, but softens up nicely over time (read: leftovers). Even if you have a gluten allergy, I recommend using other flours (bean or oat will probably be fine).

Ingredients:
(makes an 11 inch quiche)

Crust:
1/2 cup water
1 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp agave nectar
1/3 cup all purpose flour (any variety works)
1/4 cup sorghum flour (or chickpea flour, oat flour, white whole wheat, etc.)
1/3 cup ground flax seeds
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried rosemary, crushed
1/4 tsp ground sage
cornmeal for dusting
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, for glaze
1 tbsp agave nectar, for glaze

Veggie Saute:
1/2 small zucchini, chopped small
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup baby spinach, chopped
1 cup red kale, chopped
3/4 cup broccoli, chopped very small
5 to 6 baby bella mushrooms, stems removed, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped, reserve a few slices for garnish
2 small tomatoes, chopped, reserve one slice for garnish
1/2 tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper, to taste

Tofu Filling:
1-12 oz package firm tofu, drained and pressed to get all the moisture out
1/2 cup almond milk (or any non-dairy milk)
1/4 cup agave nectar
2 tbsp sesame tahini
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 to 1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp cornstarch (or arrowroot powder)

You will also need:
parchment paper
dried beans (or dried rice)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray an 11 inch tart or pie pan with oil. Dust the inside lightly with flour.

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients for the crust (water through sage) and work into a kneadable dough. You may need to flour your hands or sprinkle some flour on the dough a few times if it sticks to the sides of the bowl or your hands. Once it's clearing the bowl and your hands, lay it on a well floured surface and knead it until it's a smooth and uniform dough ball. Sprinkle more flour on top and with a floured rolling pin, roll it out until it is thin - but not paper thin - and a little larger than the circumference of your tart/pie pan. Lay it aside on a flat, floured surface and sprinkle the area you were just working in with a little cornmeal. Drag the bottom of the dough in the cornmeal and then lay it in your pan. Shape the dough into the pan, trying to get the edges to be as uniform as possible by pushing the dough from the edges and up the sides. You may need to remove any excess dough hanging off the edges and use it to create edges if one side of your crust has smaller edges. Brush the dough with the agave/oil glaze. Poke three small holes in the center of the dough then cover with a piece of parchment paper and place some dried beans (or dried rice if you don't have beans) on top to prevent the dough from rising.


Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven, remove parchment paper and beans/rice, and set aside to cool while you prepare the quiche. Turn the oven up to 375 F.

Heat a non stick pan on medium heat and add a little bit of olive oil. Add the garlic and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Next, add the onion and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the zucchini, broccoli, mushrooms, and pepper and cook until the mushrooms begin to exude their juices and the broccoli is bright green and soft. Add the tomatoes and cook until they exude their juices and deflate, about 5 minutes. Add the spinach and kale and cook until just wilted. Add in the oregano, and the salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.


In the bowl of a food processor, add all the ingredients for the tofu filling, except the salt, and blend until smooth and creamy. Add the salt and adjust to taste (if you're salt conscious, remember that there's salt in your veggies already). Blend again and then pour into the veggies. Stir the tofu filling and the veggie saute together until well combined.


Pour into the crust. Garnish the top of the crust with the pepper slices and tomato. Bake at 375 F for 45 minutes, until the crust is golden brown in color. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Serve hot and enjoy!


Update: If you end up having an overflow of quiche filling, you can make crustless mini quiches! Pour some of the leftover filling into small baking tart pans or into a muffin tin and bake at 350 F for 50 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. Let them cool for about 10 minutes. Serve alongside steamed veggies!




Saturday, January 29, 2011

Apple-Chamomile Tea Cookies


Ah, the art of the tea cookie: a delicate, dignified mouthful. Or just a great excuse to make cookies for breakfast. Here's a recipe I stumbled onto whilst doing an online search for who know's what, and then decided to veganize. The original post had typographical errors and even left out some measurements so, I did my best with what I thought was supposed to happen. I've never had a tea cookie, or any tea dessert and I've definitely never thought to bake with tea or chamomile! If you like chamomile or any herbal tea for that matter, think of this as a great way to enjoy the soothing comfort of tea without having to actually drink tea. Or, you can double fist it with a cup of tea in one hand and a not-so-dignified handful of cookies in the other. Either way, you'll feel relaxed and perhaps, even ready for bed. Unless, like me, you become frantic and can't stop eating these cookies in one sitting. Perhaps that was attributed to the fact that these cookies aren't crunchy, they're chewy. Making them all the easier to eat.

Leave the chocolate for the chocolate enthusiasts. All those decadent, too sweet flavors have their place. Just not here. This cookie isn't your typical cookie. It doesn't even pretend to be. The flavors are probably something you would never taste anywhere else and that being said, you're probably not used to them. Am I saying, "proceed with caution"? Well, yes, if you expect an over-the-top sweet cookie coma to follow after eating these. But no caution need be taken if you like to try new things and are open to interesting flavors.

Chamomile can be a little tricky to find. Try your local health, natural foods store or, any store that has loose leaf tea. I used organic German chamomile in my cookies, but regular chamomile will do. If all else fails, buy some chamomile tea and break open about 10 bags.

Bon appetit! Oh, and don't forget to put your pinky up! You might as well look fancy.

Ingredients:
(about 2 dozen cookies)

1 medium sized organic Granny Smith apple (about 1 1/2 cups), cored, peeled, and finely chopped
1 Tbsp organic sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup Earth Balance Buttery Sticks
1 1/3 cup organic brown sugar
1 Tbsp agave nectar
1/2 cup So-Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk Beverage (any non-dairy milk will do)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 flax egg (1 Tbsp finely ground flax seeds with 2-3 Tbsp water)
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup dried chamomile flowers (or the contents of 10 opened chamomile tea bags), finely chopped

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, combine the apple, sugar, and cinnamon. Mix well and set aside. In a separate bowl combine the flour and salt and set aside.

In large bowl combine the Earth Balance Butter, brown sugar, and agave. Mix until well combined, pale, and fluffy. Mix in the milk, vanilla extract, and flax egg. Add the flour to the butter mixture in small batches and mix until evenly combined. Fold in the apple mixture and chamomile until well combined.

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes, until lightly golden.  Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool completely. Serve with tea, coffee, or your favorite non-dairy milk.

Breakfast Polenta with Field Roast Mexican Chipotle Sausage and Daiya Cheddar


For all you hungry Mexican food aficionados who enjoy a hearty, (a bit spicy) and savory breakfast or brunch, but have grown tired of the omnipotent tofu scramble, I give you this: The power of polenta - for breakfast!

Call me a fat kid, I don't care, but when I couldn't decide between oatmeal and muffins, I made oatmeal cakes, and when I couldn't decide to only eat oatmeal cakes for breakfast - I made this too. And thank the vegan kitchen gods I did! I couldn't stop eating it. In fact, I made enough for two (so I could save some for later), but I ate the whole thing! Oh boy.

This was inspired by my recent trip to NYC where I had brunch at a little restaurant in the lower east side called, Caravan of Dreams. I got the french toast. My best friend got the polenta. When our food came out, it was obvious I would be secretly seething with jealousy no matter how good my french toast was.

Need I say more? Oh yes, on thing more: enjoy!

Ingredients:
(makes 4 servings)

1 cup Daiya Cheddar Style Shredded Cheese
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
3/4 cup water
1 cup polenta (or regular cornmeal - I used Bob's Red Mill)
1 - 15oz can organic corn, drained and rinsed
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Field Roast Mexican Chipotle sausages, crumbled
1 pint organic cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 small red onion, chopped
1/2 can organic black beans, drained and rinsed
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Tofutti Sour Cream, to serve, optional

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Put the Daiya Cheddar and the cilantro in a small bowl and mix to combine. Set aside

In another bowl, mix together the water, polenta, and corn. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour into a 13 x 9, 2 quart glass baking dish and bake for 25 minutes, until water is absorbed and polenta is tender, but not too dry.


In a non-stick skillet, add the olive oil and the sausage and cook on medium-high heat, until browned, 7 to 8 minutes. Lower the heat and add the tomatoes; simmer until they exude their juices, stirring occasionally. Add the onion and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes. Don't let them become translucent, you want them to still be colorful and a little crunchy. While this is happening, place another non-stick skillet on medium high heat and warm the black beans. Remove from heat after about 4 or 5 minutes.

Cut the polenta into squares and serve on individual plates. Top with sausage mixture, then beans, then cilantro and Daiya. Add Tofutti Sour Cream, if using.

Banana Almond Butter Iced Pudding with Banana Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookie Dough

Remember those Banana Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies from my last post? Of course you do. Well, this is what happens when you only need to make a half batch, but you make too much and have extra cookie dough left over and don't want to just eat it all for breakfast (even though you secretly do). Make cookie dough ice cream! Or rather, ice cream without an ice cream maker - ice pudding. It sounds weird, I know, but I swear it's really good! It's not the most decadent of desserts, but if you like desserts that hit the spot without being overwhelmingly sweet, you'll like this.

Ingredients:
(2 servings)

2 ripe bananas, sliced and frozen overnight
2 Tbsp almond butter (you can use peanut butter)
1 cup almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
1/2 to 1 cup banana chocolate chip oatmeal cookie dough, refrigerated
organic brown sugar, to garnish

Directions:

Put bananas, almond milk, and almond butter into a blender or food processor. Puree. Turn off the motor and stir the mixture a few times until smooth and creamy. Do not over blend!

Place cookie dough by the teaspoonful in the bottom of a serving bowl. Pour banana mixture over it and then place a few more drops of cookie dough in and stir to combine. Garnish with one teaspoonful of cookie dough on top and sprinkle with brown sugar. Serve immediately.

Banana Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

This is what happens when banana bread, chocolate chip cookies, and oatmeal get together for a drink at the bar and then go home together. Madness! I'm sure Martha Stewart wouldn't print that as the intro to this recipe in her magazine, but this is the vegan version of her cookie and as such, I'm allowed to be a bit saucy!

These cookies have everything I love about baking rolled into one sweet treat! Enjoy!

Ingredients:
(makes about 36 cookies)

1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 cup unbleached white whole wheat flour (regular whole wheat is fine)
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda (Use cruelty free baking soda!)
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) Earth Balance Buttery Sticks
1/2 cup organic sugar
1/2 cup organic light brown sugar
1 flax egg (1 Tbsp finely ground flax seed with 2-3 Tbsp water)
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup mashed ripe organic banana (about 1 large banana)
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
8 ounces semisweet vegan chocolate chips (Look for this brand or the Whole Foods Brand)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, optional

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl, combine the flours, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.  In a medium bowl, mix together the butter and sugars with an electric mixer (or a spoon) until evenly combined and fluffy. Add the flax egg, vanilla, and banana, and mix well. Add to flour mixture and mix until just combined. Fold in the oats, chocolate chips, and walnuts.

Drop the dough by the tablespoon full onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Space each cookie about 2 inches apart. You may need to wet your fingers a little to keep the dough from sticking to the spoon and your fingers as you scoop it out. You may also wish to shape the cookies with yours fingers, but you don't have to.

Bake cookies for 12 to 13 minutes, rotating the baking sheets about half way through. Let cool on sheets for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Gluten-Free Oven Baked Oatmeal Fruit Cakes

Ever have one of those mornings when you can't decide whether you want something good for you (like oatmeal) and something not so good for you (a muffin)? I had one of those mornings today. Luckily for me, I didn't have to chose! These here oatmeal cakes have all the good-for-you benefits of oatmeal, with the illusion of cake. They are pretty simple to make and although they appear to be a "quick fix" breakfast, they aren't. Unless, you have 40 minutes to spare in the morning. Make these on a day when you know you won't be getting around to eating breakfast until about an hour after waking up. Or, make them the night before! If you're in the mood for crunchy and soft textures, and sweet and tart flavors, this is the recipe for you! If you like a muffin with an ooey, gooey middle, this recipe is for you! Substitute whatever fruit you'd like and add chopped nuts if you wish for added crunch. Or you can change it up completely - try using bananas and chocolate chips instead of fruit for a sweet treat! One thing is certain: they will be delicious no matter what you use and they will make your kitchen smell lovely!


Ingredients:
(makes 12 cakes)

3 cups Gluten Free Rolled Oats (I used this brand)
1/2 cup organic light brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
3 flax eggs (3 Tbsp finely ground flax seeds with 1/4 cup water)
1 cup almond milk
1/3 cup organic maple syrup (or agave syrup)
1/4 cup melted Earth Balance Buttery Sticks (4 Tbsp) - can substitute with canola oil
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 cup frozen blackberries

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Lightly grease a metal cupcake/muffin tin with canola oil spray and set aside.

In a medium to large bowl add the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and baking powder. Mix to combine. Set aside.

In a small bowl, make the flax eggs by combining the ground flax seeds with the water. Whisk together with a fork until the consistency of a runny, but thick egg white. Set aside to thicken for 5 minutes.

In another small bowl, combine the almond milk, maple or agave syrup, and the melted Earth Balance Butter. Add this mixture to the oat mixture and stir to combine. Next, add the flax eggs and mix well. Fold in the blueberries and blackberries until well dispersed.

Spoon the mixture into the muffin tin, filling each cup to the top, spread your spoon across each cup to create a flat surface. Bake in the center of the oven for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Serve warm. Drizzle and garnish with agave and raw turbinado sugar, if desired.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Mini Tofu Quiche Pies

So this recipe originates from two places. One, is having left over pastry dough from making apple pie and the other is from being very hungry and not having much around the house but a few vegetable odds and ends from previous dinners.

The pie dough from this recipe is from Vegan Yum Yum, created by Lauren Ulm. You can find step by step photos for it here.  I've simply doubled it to satisfy the amount of quiche filling. The filling is a inspired by Fat Free Vegan Kitchen's mini crustless tofu quiches.

This recipe is very simple to make (especially if you have the pie dough already made) and very delicious too! It makes for a tasty dinner side (or you could eat a few and have a full dinner) and it also serves as a quick savory breakfast!

Mini Vegan Quiche Pies
(makes 12 mini pies)

Tools:
Muffin tin (silicone or metal - I use metal)
Food Processor
Rolling Pin
Non-stick pan

Ingredients:
For the Pate Brisee (pie dough):
2 1/2 cup All Purpose Flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp organic sugar
1/2 cup non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening
1/2 cup Earth Balance margarine
4 to 8 tbsp ice water

For the filling:
1/2 cup summer squash, chopped into small pieces
1 tsp garlic (about 3 cloves), minced
1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped small pieces
1 cup mushrooms, chopped
1 tbsp fresh chives, minced
1 tsp fresh cilantro, minced
1 12oz package of firm silken tofu, drained
1/4 cup almond milk
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tbsp cornstarch (arrowroot will do)
1 tsp tahini
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp of turmeric
1/2 -3/4 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Olive oil, to serve
Dried oregano, to serve

Directions:
First, make the pie dough. Lightly spray a muffin tin with oil. Add the flour, salt, sugar, vegetable shortening, and Earth Balance together in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture looks like wet sand (a few small lumps are okay). While the processor is running, slowly drizzle in water until the dough forms a ball. If in doubt, add less water. Take out the dough and place it on the counter and press it to form a disk. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour.

When ready, place a small tablespoon of dough into the bottom of each greased muffin cup. Press the dough firmly to create a bottom crust. Taking small pieces of dough, build up the sides of the cup. Make sure the walls aren't too thick! Place the shells into the refrigerator for a few minutes to firm up.

To make the tops, place the rest of the pie dough on a sheet of plastic wrap. Cover with a second sheet. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to 1/4 to 1/8 inch thick. Using a glass that has a slightly larger diameter than the openings of the muffin cups, stamp out 12 pie crust tops. Place them in the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes to firm them up.

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Lightly spray a non-stick skillet with olive oil and saute the garlic, bell peppers, summer squash, and mushrooms over medium heat until the mushrooms begin to exude their juices. Stir in the chives, cilantro and freshly ground black pepper and remove from heat.

Place the remaining ingredients (tofu through salt) in a food processor and process until completely smooth and silky. Add this mixture to the vegetables and stir to combine. Spoon equally into the 12 muffin cups, filling them and leaving about 1/4 to 1/2 an inch of space on the top.


Place your dough tops on top of each muffin and pinch the edges down to seal the tops onto the base. The better the seal, the more likely it is to stay closed under heat. With a sharp knife, cut an "X" on top of the dough, if desired.


Put the muffin pan into a middle rack in the oven and immediately reduce heat to 350 F. Bake until the tops are golden and toothpick inserted into the middle of the quiche comes out clean, about 25 to 35 minutes. If you're using a metal tin (and not a silicone one) this will probably be closer to 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let them cool for 10 minutes. Some of the tops may have come undone a little if they were not sealed tightly enough, but that is okay! I think they actually look better as "peek-a-boo" quiches!

Serve with olive oil and dried oregano.

Peek-a-boo! I see deliciousness!
Bon app├ętit!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Winter Squash, Sweet Potato and Ginger Soup with Collards and Thyme-Sage Croutons

Oh, Frankensquash, there will never be another like you!
Back in September I was given a nameless, misshapen organic squash that I've since named my "Frankensquash." I'd never cooked with squash, but I've always liked it. I was reluctant to use the squash until recently because I had no idea what to do with it and I thought that whatever I came up with  would be time consuming and difficult. But my stomach soon took over as I'm a big fan of squash. And an even bigger fan of squash soups. And an even bigger fan of collard greens. And you guessed it, an even bigger fan of ginger. I was lucky enough to have nothing much on hand but all three of these on a very cold night and came up with this easy, spicy, soothing, and filling soup! I also had some ciabatta bread lying around that was a few days old and perfect for croutons.

This soup pleases everybody. There's nothing "fake" about it (unless you count the Daiya cheddar "cheese" I put on the croutons - which is completely optional). Make this for your sick loved ones, make it for a hungry winter guest, make it for yourself!

Do they have crouton eaters anonymous meetings somewhere?
Just make sure you taste it as you go, making sure the ginger flavor is to your liking. A lot of ginger is never a bad thing, but it can make your soup too spicy and nearly inedible if you add too much, and too little ginger is no fun at all!

Also, beware the croutons! They are delicious for snacking and highly addictive! Don't eat them all before you put them in the soup!

I would certainly serve this to my hungry prairie guests!
Ingredients:

For the soup:
2 tbsp olive oil, plush more for brushing
1 winter squash (butternut or acorn will do), halved
1 small sweet potato, peeled and cut for roasting
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1 inch circular pieces
1/2 of a small yellow onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 stem of a small piece of ginger root, peeled and very finely grated or chopped *(see note above)
3 and 1/2 cup of vegetable broth, more as needed
2 collard green leaves, de-stemed and chopped into small squares
salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste


For the croutons:
24 - 1/4 inch thick ciabatta bread slices (any baguette will do, a few days old is preferred)
1 tbsp Earth Balance Buttery Spread
1 tsp ground sage
1 tsp dried thyme leaf, crushed
1 tbsp Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds (optional)
salt, to taste

Directions: 
Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Cut open the squash and clean out the seeds and flesh (don't throw them out, save them for roasting and snacking on later!). Brush the inside and the edges of the cut squash with olive oil and lay cut side down on the baking sheet. Brush the sweet potato and carrot with olive oil and place them on the baking sheet as well. Bake for 45 minutes. While this is baking, prepare the other components of the soup.

In a food processor or blender, process the ginger root until very finely chopped. You don't want any big chunks. Set aside.

Heat a non-stick pan on medium-high and saute the onion and garlic until tender and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add this to the ginger in the food processor and pulse until very finely chopped.

Once your roasted veggies are done, remove them from the oven and set them aside to cool for at least 10 minutes. When ready, scoop out the squash with a spoon and add it, the carrot, and sweet potato to the food processor and blend until you've got a very uniform and orange puree.

In a medium sauce pan, combine the vegetable broth and the puree until a soup-like, but still thick consistency appears. Bring the soup to a boil and then simmer it on low for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the collards and stir while the soup is simmering. Cover it for about 3 minutes (giving the collards enough time to become soft), ladle into bowls and serve hot with croutons on top!

For the croutons:
Preheat the broiler. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread a small amount of the Earth Balance Buttery Spread on one side of each of the pieces of bread. Spread the bread pieces, buttered side up on the baking sheet in one layer. Broil for 1 minute (just 1 minute!). Remove them after 1 minute and turn them over. Sprinkle the vegan cheese (if using) then the sage, thyme, and salt over them. Return them to the broiler and broil until the cheese melts, about 1 more minute. Serve on top of soup!

"Meat" and Spinach Lasagna with Daiya Vegan Cheese

When I was younger, I used to tell myself (and everyone who asked) that if I was on death's door and could have one last meal, it would be, without question, my mom's meat lasagna. Growing up, there was nothing she produced out of her kitchen that I loved more, and trust me, there were many things to chose from. When I first had a traditional Italian lasagna, I was baffled. What's this ricotta cheese? My mom doesn't use that. Where's the meat?! And more importantly, why isn't this being served with a side of white rice?
That's how my mom's was different. It had meat, no ricotta, and a lot of Dominican flavor (heavy on the oregano, know what I'm sayin'?). And...we ate everything with rice.
When I went vegan, about a year ago, I thought it was all over. I thought for sure I'd be having oatmeal before dying. And not too soon after, I forgot all about mom's lasagna. While I was in Portland, OR this summer, I made the mistake of having lasagna at a restaurant. It was good. But it wasn't what I was used to, and flavor-wise, it just didn't bring me back home, or anywhere for that matter. That's when I knew that I had to tackle mom's lasagna when I got home and make it vegan.
So this is it, my basic lasagna recipe - mom's lasagna, veganized. I decided I like the traditional "ricotta" cheese idea a lot, and my mom's version had a lot of mozzarella cheese so, this is my way of making up for that in a much kinder, healthier way. The ricotta recipe is from the Fat Free Vegan Kitchen blog. All credit goes to the lovely Susan V. for creating it! My version has less spinach since there is a layer of fresh spinach in the lasagna already. Don't tell anyone the ricotta is made of tofu and they won't even know.
This recipe is very easy to make and very filling. But if you're feeling ambitious, serve it with a side of white rice.
Tools: 
Food Processor or blender
Non Stick Pan
9 x 12 casserole dish
Ingredients:
9 lasagna noodles, uncooked (or if dried, boiled until al dente)
3 oz fresh baby spinach
2 28oz jars of crushed fire roasted tomatoes (or your favorite spaghetti sauce or a combination of both)
1 package of Daiya Mozzarella Vegan Shredded Cheese
"Meat" Filling:
2 tbsp olive oil, more as needed
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 to 2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 package of Smart Ground Original Veggie Protein Crumbles
Basil, dried, to taste
Oregano, dried, to taste
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
"Ricotta" Filling:
3 to 4oz chopped baby spinach
1 package (14oz) firm tofu
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp rosemary, crushed
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350F.
If using dried lasagna noodles, bring water to a boil in a large pot, add a pinch of salt and cook the noodles until al dente (follow instructions on the package).
Meanwhile, in a non stick pan, add the oil, mushrooms, garlic, and onion and saute until tender. Add the Smart Ground, basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Cook on low to medium heat and stir until well combined and fragrant. Remove from heat and cover. Mix in about 15oz of spaghetti sauce if desired (but I usually leave it out and add it to the dish later).
Add all of the ricotta filling ingredients to the food processor and blend until well combined and smooth.
Now spread some tomato sauce in the bottom of the casserole dish. Place a layer of noodles over it, using 3 noodles (or more if you're using smaller, "no-boil" noodles. Spread half of the tofu mixture on top of the noodles, then spread some of the meat mixture on top of that. Spread a layer of fresh spinach next. Then lay another 3 noodles on top, more sauce, and then a layer of the Daiya cheese evenly on that. Continue layering in this order until you've reached the top of the dish. You should end with noodles, sauce, and then cheese on the very top. Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Then remove the foil and bake for another 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with vegan parmesan cheese, black olives, or dried rosemary, if desired. Cool for 10 to 15 minutes before serving (it makes cutting through it easier).