Homestyle Greens…healthy, yes! But you would never know it!

I get so annoyed that when I see those yummy southern greens on a buffet somewhere, and I cannot partake due to the fact that there are big chunks of meat floating around in the delicious broth.

GREENS SHOULD BE FOR EVERYONE, DARN IT!  I’ll exclaim…fist in air…capturing weird looks from those around me. Okay, not really, but in my head, that’s what it looks like.

The other day, a Facebook friend posted a status update about how to make them super quick in a skillet – with no meat, just sea salt and olive oil – and I have been craving them, ever since.

I decided to make my own Facebook post, asking if any of my veggie-friendly pals had any surefire recipes that I might rip off and call my own.

Several friends chimed in and since I loved what each of them brought to the table (including the original posting some days back) I decided to try a medley of sorts.  Not to pat myself on the back too hard, but it was another win.

This is the PERFECT time of year for a big ol’ pot of greens on your stove!  It was inexpensive, super easy and so freaking good.

Ye shall need:

1) Can Organic (vegetarian – duh!) Lentils.  (Mine came in a BPA free can, too.  Bonus!)
1/2) Can (using the same can as above) Water
1) .5 oz. Container pre-packaged Organic “various” greens.  (Mine were from HEB, and were called “Power” Greens.)  
1) 16 oz. bag of Collard Greens.  
*Dijon Mustard
*Organic Olive Oil
*Sea Salt
*Black Pepper
*Lemon Pepper 
*Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
*Dried Basil

In a smaller pan, over very low heat, pour in the whole can of lentils.  Mash with a potato masher – and don’t worry about making it perfectly smooth.  A slightly chunky consistency is what you want.  

Add the 1/2 can of water to the lentils and the prepackaged (smaller) container of chosen greens. 

Lentils and Greens - oh, my!

Lentils and Greens – oh, my!

VERY GENEROUSLY, drizzle olive oil and dried basil over the top of the greens.  Stir, over low heat, until everything is nicely mixed.  The idea is to keep the greens somewhat firm.

In another large pot, coat the bottom of the pot with plenty of olive oil, sea salt and black pepper.  

Over low heat add your bag of collard greens.  (Tip:  Put the bag in the freezer for at least 15 minutes prior to cooking.)  

Stir the frozen greens until the olive oil mixture has made them shiny.  Cover and cook for two minutes.  (You will hear it popping!)  

Uncover and drizzle with two (2) Tsp. Apple Cider Vinegar.  Then, add your previously prepared Lentil/Greens mixture.  (Stir.)  Top with copious amounts of lemon pepper.  

Mix those greens!

Add 1/3 C. Dijon mustard.  (I like the kind with “champagne.”  I’m classy like that.)  Stir.  Again.  Making sure that everything is nicely mixed.  

Mixing_Greens

Cover and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.  

Add additional salt, pepper or hot sauce to taste.

I added a LOT of black pepper, lemon pepper and basil to this recipe.  You can choose to make it milder or more bold, although this particular finished product is fairly mild.

This is one of those dishes where letting it sit for a while, makes it better…although I have no idea what it will taste like tomorrow as the whole darn pot is nearly empty as of this writing.  :-)

Remember – I’m only “half” southern, so I like my greens kinda firm.  Feel free to simmer for longer if you prefer a softer texture!  Enjoy!

It’s delicious, feels like old fashioned home cooking, but is completely healthy – this will not break your diet or checkbook!

Oh, yummy!

Oh, yummy!

Vegan Cherry Pan-Cupcakes

Woah, evidently this is my first post in a while!  Apparently, it is much easier for me to be creative in the kitchen during the winter months.  At any rate, I whipped up this little doozy this AM, and if the response from the people in my house is any indication, we have a winner!  Ding! Ding! Ding!  Ding!

First, I must explain the name.  The basis of this little delicacy is pancake mix.  Basically, each of these mouthwatering little bites of joy are individual sized pancakes.  Easy!  Since they are baked in a muffin tin, they look kind of like tarts, but because of their pancake roots, I have chosen “pan-cupcake.”

Get it?  It’s a pancake.  It’s a cupcake.  Ya dig?

Second, I used cherries as the filling.  I imagine these would taste just as good with apples…blueberries, preserves of some kind , etc., etc.  Next time, I just may be REALLY wild and crazy and use marmalade or something insane like that!  This time, we have chosen cherries.

And now, for the nuts and bolts…the recipe, complete with photos!  Enjoy!

My preferred ingredients...

My preferred ingredients…

A variation of “Dutch” or “German” muffin-tin pancakes, I selected all vegan, plant based ingredients.  You will need: 
Organic Multigrain (vegan) Pancake Mix
Olive Oil
1 Individual Serving Cup Organic Applesauce
Vanilla Soy Milk
Earth Balance Spread
Evaporated Cane Juice Sugar
1 Can Pitted Tart Cherries

Prepare the pancake mix per the instructions swapping, of course, anything calling for eggs, milk, etc. with the applesauce, olive oil and soy milk.  Make the mix slightly thinner than normal as it is going to go into the muffin tin, as opposed to the skillet!  

Add the mix to the muffin tin, filling each cup slightly less than halfway full.

Bake at 350 degrees (preheated) for 15 minutes.  At the 15 minute mark, remove from heat and use a teaspoon to make impressions in each cake, similar to the technique used in “thumbprint” recipes.  

After Thumbprint impressions...

After Thumbprint impressions…

Add a tiny amount of Earth Balance Spread to each impression – it will get melty – and sprinkle a small dusting of cane sugar to each cake before returning to the oven for another ten minutes.  

After ten minutes remove, and let cool in the tin for fifteen-twenty minutes.

Remove them from the tin, and place them in a glass or non-stick baking dish.  

Add a teaspoon full of the cherries (with the juice!) to each cake, and sprinkle again, with another dusting of sugar.  

Return to the oven – for ten more minutes – at 300 degrees.  The juice, cherries and sugar will caramelize just slightly.  

Even though it seems there are numerous steps to this, the total prep and baking time is just slightly over an hour.

Consider yourself lucky, though, if the treats last that long!

Serves 10-12

Voila!!!

Voila!!!

Spaghetti Squash Alfredo – Mama Mia!

I spend significant time browsing and learning from various Vegan groups on FaceBook.  (I will post links to the groups at the end of this blog.)

Victoria G. at one such group has been kind enough to offer up recipes for many things, some are her own creations, others are simply links that were created by others.  The one in question today, was from a website called  The Rawtarian.  As usual, I took the recipe for The Rawtarian’s raw vegan alfredo sauce, and adjusted it, just slightly.  My version is not 100% raw as I used store bought almond milk.

It is so creamy and garlic-y!

(I served mine over spaghetti squash, which I had prepared by slicing in half, removing the seeds, then drizzled with olive oil, black pepper and sea salt.  I cooked the squash cut side down, on foil, in the oven for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.)

Note, this recipe is VERY similar to various cashew cheeses, so if you can do that, this will be a piece of cake!  (VEGAN cake, of course!)

2 3/4 C. Raw, unsalted cashews.  (Soak in H2O with sea salt for 15 minutes.)  
1 Tbsp. Lemon (or other “citrus” juice – I used grapefruit!)  
2 Tsp. Corn starch
2 Tsp. Sea salt
1 Tsp. Cream of Tartar
1/2 Tsp. Turmeric
1 Tsp. Each EVOO & Apple Cider Vinegar (I like Bragg’s.)  
1 Tsp. Dried basil
2 Garlic cubes (or 3 cloves.)  
1 1/4 C. H2O
1/2 C. Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
Ground black pepper to taste

Put EVERYTHING (including some of the water that the cashews soaked in) in a food processor or blender, then blend-blend-BLEND like MAD!  The cashews can leave little “chunks” so this cannot be over blended.  I let mine chill overnight before serving with the squash.  Depending on the size of the squash, and the preferred sauce-to-noodle ratio for each diner, this will serve at LEAST four very generous portions.  

While the squash is still warm from the oven, drizzle a little EVOO (or your preferred vegan spread) over the halves.  Of course, add salt and pepper to taste.   

This recipe will DAZZLE so give it a trial run before sharing with others, as you will want plenty of this to enjoy this for yourself!  

~ Recommended Vegan FaceBook Groups – I’m not certain if they are private or open groups.  Interested parties can message me directly for additional info if interested in joining.  :-)
Recipes For Life *
Garden Of Vegan *

DINNER is SERVED!  Mangia, mangia!

DINNER is SERVED! Mangia, mangia!

Cashew Cheese – Yummeh!

This was my third run at cashew cheese…

My first batch, was great.  I found a recipe which called for miso, and since I had none on hand, I modified accordingly.  Instead, I added a few tablespoons of some Italian flavored dressing that was just sitting in the ‘fridge, and it was a win.  The cheese had a spicy italian flare.  Twas quite good.

My second run…meh…not so much.  I wanted to take it in a sweet direction, so I added ludicrous amounts of agave nectar and goji berries.  It was too sweet.  Sickeningly sweet.  Like Baklava dipped in corn syrup wrapped in cotton candy.  (Gag!)
It sat in my refrigerator until it became a weird petrified mess.  And needless to say, I wasn’t immediately ready to take another try after that.

I finally got the urge, just the other day.  And this time, I was determined to get another win.  AND I DID, hence this entry.  (Pats self on back.)   It was so darn good that I wound up eating most of it the same day I made it.  Even my daughter was enamored with it, and this is a child who enjoys muenster, cheddar and all other (real?) kinds of fromage.  Just FYI, this particular recipe has a similar texture (and flavor, almost) as a Christmas Port Wine cheese ball.

I took very careful notes as I just knew that the Vegan Kitchen Creation Gods were smiling on me just then!  That said, I am very happy to present, from my kitchen to yours, this fantastic (if I do say so, myself) recipe.  Enjoy!

(I made a small batch as raw bulk cashews are kind of spendy, and well, just on the off chance it DIDN’T turn out, my wallet wouldn’t be mad at me.  This recipe serves three.)

2/3 C. raw unsalted cashews –>soak in 2/3 C. H2O with sea salt for 15 min.  
1 Tbsp. Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
1/3 Tsp. Cream of Tartar powder
2 Tsp. Organic Dijon Mustard (I’m in LOVE with HEB Central Market Organics Dijon Mustard.  I actually feel SORRY for those outside of Texas, who can’t easily get the Central Market Organics brand!)  
1/2 Tsp. Pesto (It WON’T make it overly Italian!  However, if you desire more of an Italian twist, add more Pesto, to taste.)  
1/2 Tsp. EVOO
1 Tsp. Organic Whole Wheat Flour
Sea salt and organic black pepper to taste.

Pour out most of the water that the cashews have soaked in, then put all the ingredients into a food processor.  Stop regularly to scrape the sides of the processor, as you want to blend this until it is “beyond creamy.”  

Place the freshly blended cheese into a bowl and spread like frosting until flat and smooth.  In a separate bowl, add generous amounts of black pepper, lemon pepper and turmeric, then sprinkle lovingly over the top of the smoothed cheese.  Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.  

Wonderful on crackers, veggies, toast points, etc!  Would make a phenomenal “grilled cheese” sandwich, IMO…

Cashew Cheese!  Yes, CHEESE!

Cashew Cheese! Yes, CHEESE!

Spicy Pizza Soup, oh my!

Years ago, when my best girlfriend and I used to indulge in pizza, we would order just three simple toppings that packed quite a mighty punch:  Tomato, Jalapeno, and Pineapple.  I know, I know…sounds potentially crazy, but trust me, there is just something about this particular combination that induces sheer immediate ecstasy on one’s taste buds.

The other day, after my daughter mentioned that she wanted pizza, I immediately thought of this flavor, and an instant craving resulted.  My husband and I recently just got back to our usual body sculpting at the gym routines, so pizza is out.  BUT…soup is not.  And one can flavor a soup with just about anything, so…

…I went to the store, bought just a few key ingredients (in addition to a few staples I keep on hand) and tonight, Spicy Pizza Soup was born!  And I wouldn’t be posting the recipe here, if it wasn’t a WIN!

Like just about everything else I do, this creation was AMAZINGLY easy – from start to finish, it took about fifteen minutes.  EASY!  YUM!  And best of all, it didn’t destroy all the hard work I did at the gym today.

Now, without further ado, here is the recipe!

1C. Vegetable stock
1C. Fire roasted tomato soup.  (Check the ingredients, make sure there is no whey or other animal products in it for it to be vegan.)
1/4 C. Crushed pineapple.  
1/4 C. Mozzarella flavored Daiya cheese
2 Tbsp. Sliced jalapeno peppers
1 Tbsp. Vegenaise 
1 Tbsp. Vegan margarine (I like “Earth Balance” brand.)  
~ Optional: Tofu sour cream for garnish

Add the first two ingredients to a saucepan.  Heat until boiling.  Remove from heat.  Add 1 cup of the hot soup base to the pineapple and jalapenos.  Place together in a blender and blend until smooth.  Pour mixture back into pan/remaining soup base.  Add the Vegenaise, Daiya cheese and margarine.  Stirring constantly, re-heat on medium until cheese is melted.  
Garnish with tofu sour cream and additional Daiya cheese, if desired.  Serves two.  

ENJOY!  Perfect for a crisp fall night, and of course, goes wonderful with some kind of bread to dip into it!  ;-)

Who knew that pizza could inspire soup!?

Super Easy Vegan Taco Filling

Perfect for burritos, tacos, enchiladas and nachos!

Super easy, super quick…and super yummy!

You will need:  Organic Quinoa, Sea Salt, Texturized Veggie/Soy “crumbles,” Taco Seasoning and water.

Prepare the Quinoa per the directions.  (I like to add a little sea salt to the water as I boil it.)  

Add the Veggie crumbles – I used “Light Life Smart Ground” vegan crumbles.  

Add the taco seasoning and 3/4 c. H2O.  (Check to make sure the seasoning has no whey in it!  To make 100% sure, you can follow this recipe here, and prepare your own!)  

Simmer over low heat, stirring constantly, for approximately 5 minutes.  

Add other ingredients of your choosing, to taste.  (Cilantro?  Salsa?  Peppers?  Etc., etc.)  

From there, you can create any Mexican-inspired dish that would normally call for seasoned ground meat.  The quinoa gives it an almost “crunchy” texture.  Enjoy!

Easy, awesome and dee-lish!

Rio’s Brazilian Cafe – Austin, Texas

Last night to celebrate our sixth year of wedded bliss, my Beloved took me to dine at Rio’s Brazilian Cafe.  He found the place by searching online for “romantic vegetarian restaurants.”  While Rio’s isn’t 100% veggie, they are both vegetarian AND vegan friendly, hence this little write-up on this blog.

We had never partaken in Brazilian fare before…in fact, the first thing that had previously popped into my mind when thinking about Brazilian cuisine, was the traditional Brazilian steak house.  (No, thank you.)

They offer a number of dishes that can easily be converted into vegan form – they’re really big on coconut milk in place of heavy, dairy-based creams.  They can also perform miracles with various kinds of squashes.

This is a tiny, unassuming place, but the service is as amazing as the food!  They even have a kitschy little “drive through” window.   (So, the next time you find yourself in the area and on a bit of a time crunch, you can simply swing through and get your Brazilian fix with little effort.)

Just FYI, I chose the Ilha Fiscal, made vegan, and the veggie version of the Nhocchi de Arroz con Linguica, was my hubby’s selection.  We also enjoyed drinks, appetizers and dessert.  We did NOT leave hungry!

Rio’s is located at 408 N. Pleasant Valley Road, in ATX.  Their phone # is 512.828.6617 and once again, I cannot recommend this place enough.  I will certainly eat there again!

Rio’s Brazilian Cafe – ATX

Super Easy Vegan Queso – So good you’ll slap your Mama!

If you have just a few staple Vegan ingredients lying around, five spare moments, and you get a jonesing for something yummy, why not try vegan queso?

Here’s how!  The following super easy recipe serves two.  Feel free to adjust for larger crowds.  (And heck, don’t tell ’em it’s vegan!  Just let ’em sit there and devour the delicious, earth and animal friendly goodness while you look on with a satisfied and omniscient smile.  Yes, I said “omniscient“!)

1/2 cup salsa of your choosing. (Today, I used Native Texan Fire Roasted Salsa in Medium.  I totally dig the smoky flavor.)
1/4 cup Vegenaise
1/4 cup Daiya Cheddar flavored shreds
1/4 cup Daiya Mozzarella flavored shreds

Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly until smooth and blended.  Serve over organic, vegan chips, or heck, eat it with a spoon!  Yummm!

Yes, that’s vegan queso! Mangia, mangia!

Vegan “Fry Sauce.”

I have come to know that the fabulous phenomenon that is “fry sauce” is a regional thing.  If you were not exposed to fry sauce due to where you live, A.) I am so sorry, and B.) here’s an easy VEGAN version.

Your tater tots and french fries will thank you for it!

The picture explains it all…

Vegenaise FTW!!!

(Use Vegenaise in place of Mayo.  You will NEVER miss it!)