Oct 31, 2010

jerk chickpeas and potatoes

When you hear of food being jerked, it is usually chicken. Please don't jerk the chicken around! Not here! We are kind to chickens and needed something else to jerk. Chickpeas became a natural because of its firm texture and ability to actually get crisp in the oven. Adding a few potatoes to the jerking also became a no-brainer.

You can also add carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes (I did) or a winter squash (it's that time of year, again) to the jerking pan. If you add any of the less denser veggies ( i.e. sweet potatoes) add them later in the cooking so they don't over cook.

The jerk marinade is made with garlic, jalapenos, allspice, cinnamon, cayenne, brown sugar, vinegar and a few other ingredients. Make it as spicy as you like it, but remember that cooking takes some of the edge off the raw version.

I made a cilantro-yogurt sauce to tame the heat. This really was an easy meal to make and very satisfying to my jerk-tooth.

Add a side of greens and this meal is complete.

Cost Breakdown:
potatoes: $2
chickpeas: $4
onion, garlic, peppers: $2
spices: $1
vinegar, lime, sugar: $1
carrot, sweet potatoes: $2
yogurt, cilantro, parsley: $2
Total to feed a family of 5:

Oct 30, 2010

magic coconut cookie bars

Another Lit Group, another cookie. My kids are really digging my new found baking enthusiasm! Kate chose the cookie for this meeting and because the book was "The Witch of Blackbird Pond," another very appropriate selection. These are Magic Coconut Cookie Bars. Another one out of VCIYCJ, by Moskowitz and Romero.

This one had to be gluten and nut free as well, so I had to omit the nuts and I used a ginger snap cookie (not graham cracker - didn't find any GF) that was gluten free for the called-for base. If you are making these gluten free, add another 15 minutes to the baking time. And note that there is a setting time - overnight.

I have no real idea why my ten year-old would choose this for her 'cookie' selection since it doesn't look like a cookie - and the other girls actually gazed with skepticizm at the bars. They did turn out really well, though, and they all liked it.

Cost Breakdown:
ginger snaps: $5
coconut milk: $1
Earth Balance, sugar: $1.50
chocolate chips, coconut flakes: $3.50
Total to make 24 bars:

Oct 29, 2010

NYC black and white cookies

 Lit Group selection this week was "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" by Robert Louis Stevenson. Given that the protagonist is also the antagonist, it seemed fitting to bake a cookie that embodied close to the same quality. Of course, Jekyll and Hyde are not complete opposites, although many do consider them to be - the good v. the bad, to use a cliche. Hyde is a part of Jekyll, but not an equal part. Therefore, my cookie being half black and half white does not serve the book accurately, but the teens certainly enjoyed them.

These are not small cookies - they each use a 1/3 c of batter, and I made 26. Except for the one I managed to hide in the oven for David, there remained only a lonely half-eaten piece by the time Lit Group was over.

Out of  Moskowitz's and Romero's "Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar " cookbook, another success! These are citrus cookies with chocolate on one side and glaze on the other. And, in case you've missed past cookie posts - no  eggs or egg-replacers are needed. Occasionally some recipes use flax seed as a replacer, but no commercial egg-replacers are used by the authors.

Cost Breakdown:
powdered sugar: $2
chocolate: $2
nut milk: $.50
citrus juice, zest; $1
oil, sugar: $2
flour, arrowroot, baking powder and soda: $1.50
Total to bake 16 large cookies:

Oct 28, 2010

chicken fried seitan

Happy Birthday, David! 

His Birthday has finally come! He certainly has been taking advantage of this week - but, that's okay. 

For his birthday meal, he requested Country Fried Steak...or is that Chicken Fried?

Well, no real difference between the two, except that Country Fried can be served with brown gravy (with onions) and can be simmered in the gravy before serving. Which means I made Chicken Fried Seitan.

Yes, this is a repeat , but I have made a few variations and they should be noted! This is, after all, a learning process.

First off, the seitan is just vital wheat gluten, nothing extra added. Mix 1 c gluten with 7/8 c water (1 cup of water with 2 T of water removed). Cook it in any seitan simmering liquid.

Then cut the seitan thin - about 1/4 inch thin. This makes the final product even crunchier without drying it out. We aren't going for shoe pleather.

Third,  the coating liquid could be cashew cream, making this dish soy free. In the original recipe I used yogurt to replace the buttermilk, which still works, but try to make sure it is the thickness of buttermilk by thinning it out with a nondairy milk.

Fourth, I double-dipped it this time. I didn't last time because I think I made my yogurt too thick and double -dipping it in the flour created too much of a coat. Having the dipping liquid be thinner allowed two coats of flour and a crunchier crust.

This turned out even better than the last time and again, no surprise, another fried meal came out on top.

Happy Birthday, my love!

Cost Breakdown:
seitan: $3
flour, oil, cashews: $4
potatoes: $4
almond milk: $2
Total to feed 6 people well:

Oct 27, 2010

sweet potato topped with chili

Sweet potatoes and black beans together is so natural, that I am sure many folks have combined them already. So, baking a sweet potato and then topping it with this easy black bean chili is not exactly going out on a limb!

The chili takes about thirty minutes to cook so the flavors meld well and the sweet potatoes tend to be ready faster than regular baking potatoes, anyway. A dollop of Tofutti and maybe a little heat for those folks who like it a little spicy and lunch is ready in a snap.

Cost Breakdown:
sweet potatoes: $5
beans: $2
tomatoes: $2
onion, garlic, pepper, spices: $1
Total to feed a family of 5:

Oct 26, 2010

japanese noodles and steamed buns

Asian Night

Cat is responsible for tonight's meal. She asked me to make some kind of Japanese Steamed Bun. She called it Nikuman.

This steamed bun is filled with ground pork (TVP) and Japanese spices - ginger, tamari, etc. I was very happy to make this for her since what teenager is not immersed in the Japanese culture in some way thanks to video and computer games. That is all very well, but I needed something else to make with it since steamed buns just didn't seem to be enough.

Caramelized Japanese Noodles with vegetables also came to the meal. Now caramelizing something that is moist is a little challenging and while given more time I'm sure I would have been able to get the job done better, three hungry kids just wanted food - caramelized or not!

The buns weren't all that difficult to make, but when there is a dough involved it can seem a little much. What is easy about this dough is that it comes together in a bowl and doesn't need to be rolled out, just spread out with your hands, sort of like a pizza dough being worked by hand.

The noodles were very easy - soba, broccoli, mushrooms, carrots (or any vegetable you want), and the caramelizing sauce - sesame oil, vegetarian stir-fry sauce, rice vinegar, ginger, garlic and brown sugar.

Everyone loved tonight's meal.

Cost Breakdown
oil, stir-fry sauce, vinegar, tamari: $1
bamboo shoots, ginger, garlic: $1
broccoli, carrots, mushrooms: $4
flour: $.75
nut milk, brown sugar: $1
TVP: $.75
noodles: $2
Total to feed a family of 6:

Oct 25, 2010

witch fingers + brew

Alright, so it isn't really "witch fingers or brew," but green bread sticks with Cheezy Broccoli Soup.

The fabulous thing about this soup is that it is cheesy without soy. Yes, it is soy free and no processed cheese substitute is used. In fact, the cheesiness comes from nutritional yeast, carrots and potatoes. All very good for you, accessible (nutritional yeast should be on your shopping list constantly) and easy. Make sure to use the stems of the broccoli, too, since they are sweet and tender once peeled.

The bread sticks are just a great bread recipe with green food coloring. I used natural coloring ( yellow: turmeric, blue: blueberry) and I had to use quite a bit to get the bread to have the green hue (I used a product I bought at Whole Foods), but if you are using the food coloring that is available at any grocery store, you will certainly need lots less. The finger nails are almond slices and the hair is a sprinkling of Daiya. Just roll a bread piece into a rope about 10 inches long and cut it in half. Stick the almonds on (and cheeze if using) the tapered ends and let it rise for another 30 minutes and bake.

The kids got a kick out of it and they even enjoyed the soup.

Cost Breakdown
broccoli: $3
potatoes, carrots, onion: $3
flour: $2
finger accents: $1
spices, nutritional yeast: $1
Total to feed a family of 6:

 4 out of 5 stars

Oct 24, 2010


It is David's birthday week and he had run of the menu for this weekend and next week.

Almost always requested is Benedict, but since I've made it twice for this blog already, I wanted to make it differently. Instead of regular "Canadian Bacon" and Hollandaise Sauce, I decided to make it with Vegan Chorizo and Chipotle Hollandaise.

Although one would expect it to be ubber spicy, it had just enough spice to make it delicious and different.

Another difference with this Benedict post is that I made a How-To Breakdown for Benedict. If you choose to make it as a regular Benedict, I included appropriate instructions.

Cost Breakdown:
tofu: $2
nutrtional yeast, spices: $1
English Muffin: $3
Chorizo: $3
veganaise, lemon, Dijon, turmeric: $2
Total to make 12 Benedicts:

Oct 23, 2010

cordon bleu

I have been on a roll lately!
First the Twice-Baked Crispy Gluten, then the Braciole, and now
"Chicken" Cordon Bleu. Cordon Bleu has a thin slice of Prosciutto and Swiss or Gruyere Cheese rolled in a pounded chicken breast, then breaded and pan-fried.

This is very easy to veganize and the result is extravagantly exquisite.

Using the Tender Seitan Recipe (recipe is coming), roll out the gluten and place a slice of Tofurkey and a slice of vegan cheese (I used Daiya and Follow Your Heart) in the middle. To make this soy free, use a recipe from the Uncheese Cookbook by Jo Stepaniak, maybe the Buffalo Mostarella or the Muenster Cheez (use 1 T less fresh lemon juice than the recipe calls for) and skip the Tofurkey unless you have a soy-free cold cut.

Roll the gluten up and sear the packages. If you do not sear it on all sides, the gluten will unravel. Not good. If you want to see a How-To, check out the Braciole How-To Breakdown for the rolling and searing instructions, scroll down to The Seitan part.

After searing each gluten roll, cook them in the simmering liquid from the Tender Seitan Recipe and bake them for two hours, just like the recipe says to do for the whole roast, just use the seared rolls and cut the cooking time to 2 hours.

When they are cooked, cool them and bread them in (1) flour then in (2) cashew cream (soy free!), then in (3) fresh bread crumbs and pan fry them until golden brown. The cashew cream is just as effective as using soy yogurt
or eggs (BAD- never use eggs!!)
to stick the crumbs to the rolls.

Cost Breakdown
gluten: $3
Tofurkey: $3
Cheeses: $5
fresh bread: $1
coconut oil: $1
cashews: $2
bok choy: $3
polenta: $2
Total to feed a family of 7:

Oct 21, 2010

swedish vegan meatballs

Swedish Meatballs!

Swedish meatballs are supposed to be light and fluffy on the inside. Since I am not using meat, I made a  version of Bryanna's Neatballs. These are made with TVP and gluten. I am positive that they can be made with bulgur instead of TVP to make it soy-free. These are first baked, then cooled and then simmered in the gravy or tomato sauce. These little guys stay together really well and are light and fluffy - just as intended.

The gravy is a cashew cream based gravy with a dark rich stock to replace the veal stock in the original recipes. 

My husband commented that he had not realized how much he had missed Swedish Meatballs until I made these. He also said that they kicked-butt.

Serve these with mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce in lieu of the authentic, but hard to locate, lingonberry jam. 

Cost Breakdown:
TVP, gluten: $4
cashew: $1
onion, garlic, veg stock: $3
bread: $1
potatoes: $5
cranberry: $.50
Total to feed a family of 6:

Oct 20, 2010

grilled halloween sandwich

Continuing with the Halloween theme, here is a sandwich not quite so original or banking on the taste buds, although the kids enjoyed them!

The most difficult part was to get the kids to wait long enough for the Daiya to melt properly. Obviously, they couldn't. I'm sure the cheeze would have melted much better. As it is, I hope the idea of a pumpkin form can be discerned. 

Just take a pumpkin cookie cutter and cut out the shape. Then grill the bread to a golden brown and long enough to melt the Daiya. Follow Your Heart might be more difficult to melt here because the bread  might burn before the cheeze melts, unless you melt it first and then spread on the sandwich and lastly toast it under a broiler.

Cost Breakdown:
bread: $2
Daiya: $2
Yves cold cuts: $2
Tofurkey: $2
green pepper pieces for the stem: .$25
Total to make 5 sandwiches:

Oct 19, 2010

italian rice casserole

Italian Night

Having to come home pretty late, I needed to plan something that would be easy and pretty hands-off. I cooked an Italian rice casserole full of vegetables: onion, garlic, pepper, spinach, olives, chickpeas and green beans.

After all the vegetables were chopped and the garlic, onion, chickpeas and peppers were sauteed, there was nothing to do but add the rice, the rest of the vegetables and stock. I baked it for 40 minutes and dinner was on the table without a whole bunch of hassle. The taste was pretty nice, too, so this was a success as far as I was concerned.

Cost Breakdown;
rice: $1
green beans, spinach: $3
olives, onion, garlic: $1
peppers: $2
chickpeas: $2
Total to feed a family of 8:

Oct 18, 2010


I'm pretty sure I saw someone do this somewhere, so I can't claim originality. I removed the crust from soft whole wheat bread and rolled out  the slices of bread very thin. I smeared some Hungarian cream cheese (paprika, Better Than Cream Cheese, green onion, salt and pepper) on the slices and rolled them up.

It was very simple and easy and tasted pretty good. It made a great picnic/to go lunch fare and that's exactly what I needed a half hour before we were supposed to leave.

Cost Breakdown:
bread: $2
Better Than Cream Cheese: $2
spices, green onions: $1
Total to make 10 logs:

Oct 17, 2010

malai kofta

Indian Night

An awesome Indian dish is Malai Kofta. Kofta means "balls" (as in meatballs) and Malai means "cream." Neither of these would lend themselves to veganism and I haven't found a vegan version anywhere.

The kofta can be made with meat or vegetables or beans or cheese. The kofta in Malai Kofta uses paneer, a homemade cheese.

So, let's veganize it!

The sauce is a tomato based gravy with a little cream and some spices, but nothing all that complicated.  In  order to achieve the creaminess that cream brings to the Malai party, I used cashew cream and cashew butter and a few Tablespoons of Earth Balance to up the richness of the sauce.

I made the koftas using chickpeas and fresh herbs. I pan fried them a little and then finished them in the oven.

Although this meal was very successful in terms of flavor, it does not have quite the flavor that cream lends to the original. While there are some dishes that I truly try to achieve authenticity with, this particular one tasted so good that I am not bummed by not hitting the target exactly. It most certainly resembles Malai Kofta, but since I am not using dairy cream, the taste is slightly different. So, if you are not expecting exact replication, this is a total knockout.

For the greens I made the Spinach and Kale Bhaji out of Flavors of India.

Cost Breakdown
cashew: $2
tomato: $3
spices: $1
chickpeas: $2 
herbs: $2
kale, spinach: $4
garlic, onion: $1
Total to feed a family of 6:

Oct 16, 2010

chinese crispy vegan pork

Asian Night

Tonight I made a meal based on a recipe from Bryanna Clark Grogan's Authentic Chinese Cuisine cookbook.

I am a huge fan of Bryanna and her website, Vegan Kitchen Feast, and I love this book. I read a few of the reviews on Amazon about this book and I even made a recipe from it that was being critiqued by a customer and I did not have the same experience that she did.

Which brought to mind the importance of seasoning food.

Many folks who are just starting out on the 'health' road via vegetarianism also cut out salt - something that they had not done before. This does not only make food bland, but it makes vegetarian food bland - and then it is vegetarianism that gets the ax, not the true culprit - salt.

If you are just beginning to be veg, it is important that you not sabotage your new diet by not making it taste as good as it can.

If you are fresh off the processed-foods-wagon, just eating freshly made food will automatically lower your sodium drastically without the need to eliminate all salt. Then in time, when  your palate adjusts to the new menu as well as the lower sodium in your new food, you can continue to rid yourself of even table/cooking salt.

So, please season your food. You are already doing well by cooking your own whole food, so don't undermine your chances of success.

Tonight's meal used TVP chickn cutlets. In order to rehydrate your TVP properly, it must be soaked in boiling liquid for two hours. Once the liquid boils you do not have to keep cooking it, but you do have to soak it for a long time otherwise it will be tough in spots.

I have made a How-To Breakdown for this and it will be up this weekend.

Everyone loved it, with the obvious "I don't like peas," " Ginger is too spicy!" etc.

Cost Breakdown:
TVP: $6
onion, garlic, ginger: $1
pepper, peas: $2
tomato paste, tamari: $.50
rice: $1
Total to feed a family of 5:

4.5 out of 5 stars

Oct 13, 2010

leek and potato soup

A simple recipe originally from Julia Child, who I am sure received it by way of some French chef, this Leek and Potato soup is the epitome of simplicity.

This is a tried and true dish of leeks and potatoes and a little almond milk to finish it, if desired.

Use only the white parts of the leeks to maintain the crisp color and fry the light green leek parts as garnish. I also put a little Better Than Sour Cream on my photo, but it certainly does not require it.

You can leave this soup rustic or blend it to give it a smooth consistency.

A beautiful fall soup.

Cost Breakdown
leeks: $4
potatoes: $3
Total to feed 8 people a soup course:

Oct 12, 2010

sausage biscuits

So what happens when your daughter starts experimenting with Tofurkey and a biscuit? Fabulosity, that's what. Cat chopped up a package of Tofurkey Italian sausages, pan-fried them and added them to our homemade-ridiculously-easy biscuit mix.

She topped it with a nutritional yeast gravy and served it up.

Although the biscuit is not quite as flaky as one without the Tofurkey, it was really good. Kind of like a 'sausage and biscuits with gravy' except the sausage is in the biscuit and not the gravy.

Nice, Cat!

Cost Breakdown:
Tofurkey: $4
flour, Earth Balance, baking powder: $1
almond milk, nutritional yeast: $2
green slad: $3
Total to feed a family of 5:

Oct 11, 2010

stuffed shells with creamy tomato sauce

Italian Night

I have made stuffed shells before, and the filling is the same spinach-tofu blend I use for the lasagna, but I have never made a creamy tomato sauce.

The whole pan disappeared in about 15 minutes, not good for the digestion, I'm afraid. The sauce is my regular tomato sauce, but at the end I added a cup of cashew cream (strained) and heated it until it thickened.

Stuffing the shells is the most time-consuming part, so just make sure the under-cooked shell is open all the way (not curled under), before scooping the filling into it using a teaspoon.

You can blend your tomato sauce before pouring it on the shells in case you have a daughter who picks out any vegetable pieces large enough to grasp.


Cost Breakdown:
shells: $2
tomatoes: $3
tofu: $2
spinach: $2
garlic, onion, spices: $1
cashew: $2
Total to feed a family of 5:

Oct 9, 2010

thai curried coconut eggplant with noodles

Asian Night

Mikel requested this as a repeat. I had made it once before - last year. Having made it before, I felt free to experiment a a bit. The original recipe is from Buddha's Table, a vegan Thai cookbook, but whereas most of the recipes form this book have been a knockout, I had cryptically written "Find galanga next time?" as my note. Yeah, not too helpful regarding our thoughts of the recipe, I'm afraid.

Having made more than a few of his recipes, and realizing that while having the original-authentic ingredients is ideal, substituting appropriate equivalents is at least acceptable. So galanga became ginger and lemongrass became lemon zest. Also, the original recipe is a bit complicated so I simplified it.

The outcome was outstanding - even David loved it and asked if there was more.
I'm positive he didn't last time.

I salted my eggplant slices to remove a lot of the moisture so the eggplant would keep its shape during cooking. I stir fried my eggplant until golden and removed them to set aside. I repeated the same for any of the vegetables I wanted cooked.

I had made red curry paste for another recipe a few months ago and froze half. This was what I used as my red curry paste which I fried in a little oil. I added some vegetable broth and coconut milk, added back the eggplant slices and simmered the curry until the eggplant was tender.

As accompaniments, I had bean sprouts, tomato slices, yellow and green pepper slices, lime, green onions, the stir fried green beans, cabbage and garlic slices.

I poured the curry sauce over the noodles and added the accompaniments to the dish.

Cost Breakdown:
noodles: $2
peppers: $1
tomato, green onion, garlic: $1.50
bean sprouts, green beans: $2
lime, cabbage: $2
coconut oil: $1
red curry paste: $1
Total to feed  a family of 5:


It is interesting how this blog has taken over my menu for the past few months. I found myself not repeating recipes because I wanted to keep things fresh and new. 

The family was getting annoyed with me. So I have acquiesced and will be repeating dishes they enjoy. In a way, I guess it is beneficial to my readers as well since I do make dishes again and again, showing how much we enjoy them. A glance second time around might give someone that extra nudge to make it anyway or to finally get around to making it. 

With that in mind, I made BLT's - a true family favorite and very easy to make, especially if you've made it a few times before and know the method. To make things easier, I also made a How-To Breakdown for the 'Bacon.'

If there is anyone out there who can come with a name for this, I would be grateful. David has been calling it ToBacon for as long as I can remember, but it sounds too much like Toe-Bacon for my taste :)

Cost Breakdown:
tofu: $2
nutritional yeast: $.50
liquid smoke, tamari: $.50
bread: $3
tomato, lettuce: $2
veganaise: $.50
Total to feed a family of 5:


Oct 6, 2010

corned cabbage

Family Favorite

Well, this is almost a family favorite, since two of the five don't consider it one, but the other three that do speak very loudly.

This is a super easy to make, very simple meal, but oh so wonderful.

We started making out the entire corned seitan (corned beef) dish, complete with seitan, cabbage and potatoes, but as time went on, we realized we actually like the vegetables. True the seitan makes a great Reuben (see the Corned Setian recipe on the Recipe list page), but the corned seitan can be frozen and it takes more work and we found ourselves eating the cabbage and carrots and potatoes more.

The obvious solution was to skip the seitan and make only the vegetables. Now before you ignore this dish, let me tell you how fantastic it is.
 It is thhhhhiiiiissss good.
The horseradish sauce is really what puts it over the top, so no matter what eggless mayo you use, Veganaise, Nayonaise or a homemade one using tofu, this is the sauce that makes the humble cabbage and potatoes an aristocrat.  

To make it all you do is put all of your vegetables, cabbage, carrot, onion and potato in a large pot and add the cooking broth made of pickling spice, balsamic vinegar, ketchup, maple syrup, cloves, garlic and paprika. Simmer until the vegetables are tender and serve with the Horseradish sauce.

Cost Breakdown
carrot, onion, garlic: $2
potato: $2
cabbage: $4
veganaise, horseradish: $1
spices, maple, ketchup, vinegar: $1
Total to feed a family of 6: