Mar 23, 2017

"veganize it! + giveaway

I'm back for the third week in a row, and with another cookbook review. It seems that more than flowers are sprouting up for spring.

This new book is from Robin Robertson - another in the "win" pile! This is called Veganize It! Easy DIY Recipes for a Plant-Based Kitchen (AMAZON, B&N).

As always, Robin is very thorough and imparts tons of information in this newest volume. As the title indicates, this book turns non-vegan ingredients and recipes into delicious vegan ones! Robin starts with a pantry list then moves into ingredients to know and also shares a few basic tips and tricks. Then come the recipes!

The chapters range from DIY Dairy-Free and Egg-Free, Too, and Plant-Based Meats to Vegan Charcuterie and Instead of Seafood, to list a few.

I decided to test the book thoroughly and make as many of the ingredients at home as was called for in the recipes - because although Robin gives you basic recipes to veganize, she also assembles those recipes into a dish.

For my first main recipe I chose to make Cheesy Sausage Biscuits because I figured it would make a wonderful breakfast dish with some tofu scramble. This recipe includes DIY ingredients such as vegan butter, Maple Breakfast Sausage, nondairy milk and vegan sour cream. Although all of these recipes are in the book you can certainly use store-bought ingredients when you like. I decided to make the sour cream and the sausage:

The sausage was easy and quick to make and it was as promised: delicious.

The sour cream was just as easy to prepare and just as tasty. I used the remaining sour cream to make a salsa-ranch dressing. Yum!

When you add all these ingredients together, it makes this cheesy, sausage-y, fluffy and buttery biscuit. We all really enjoyed these! In fact, the biggest problem was that I didn't make enough!

The next main recipe I wanted to make was Cheesy Steak-Out Sandwiches. This recipe needs Vegan Worcestershire Sauce, Cheddary Sauce and either portobellos or seitan. I chose to make Baked Seitan Roast because I have a mushroom hater in the family.

I am a seitan lover and this simple roast was wonderful, especially in this sandwich.  I also made the Cheddary Sauce, which was equally amazing and brought this sandwich up another level.

Wrap all these scrumptious ingredients into a freshly baked roll and you have this perfect sandwich! If you are wondering if mushrooms would do this justice, I can assure you that it would!

This book is definitely an asset to your collection - or the beginning of your collection of cookbooks! It is unique and varied enough that the book is worth its price in gold. It has recipes such as scrapple, hot dogs, wellington, ribs, omelets, feta, butter, jerky, pepperoni, sea scallops, fish-free fillets, oyster sauce, kimchi, pasta, ganache, and the list goes on!

Robin has offered to share a recipe with you and since I focused so much on seitan for my review, I wanted to show you some more range and am sharing Robin's Clam Free Chowder.

After the recipe, be sure to enter the contest to win Veganize It! from Robin and her publisher. It's easy to enter - leave a comment (and be sure I can contact you, should you win!) Contest is open to US residents only and will conclude April 3, 2017. Good luck!

Photo by William and Susan Brinson.

Text excerpted from VEGANIZE IT! © 2017 by Robin Robertson. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved. Photo by William and Susan Brinson.


Oyster mushrooms star in this vegan interpretation of New England clam chowder made with diced potatoes, onion, and celery with a creamy, cashew-based broth. If oyster mushrooms are unavailable, substitute white button mushrooms, chanterelles, or a combination of both.


2 tablespoons vegan butter
8 ounces oyster mushrooms, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 celery rib, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups peeled and diced potatoes
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dulse or nori flakes
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups vegetable broth
¼ teaspoon liquid smoke
½ cup raw cashews, soaked in hot water for 1 hour, then drained
2 cups unsweetened almond milk
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

1 Heat 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the pot with a slotted spoon. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter to the same pot over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until softened. Stir in the potatoes, bay leaves, dulse, thyme, Old Bay, salt, pepper, and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil and then decrease the heat to low and cook for 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are just tender. Remove the bay leaves and stir in the liquid smoke.

2 While the soup is simmering, blend the cashews and 1 cup of the almond milk in a high-speed blender until smooth. When the vegetables are tender, stir in the cashew mixture and the remaining 1 cup almond milk. Stir in the reserved mushrooms and heat the soup for a minute or two until hot. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if needed. Serve hot, garnished with the parsley.

Mar 16, 2017

ultimate vegan cookbook for instant pot

First things first - I promised to announce the winner of Becky Striepe's 40 Days of Green Smoothies (KindleAmazon)! This is an amazing book that will help you on your way to forming the healthy and delicious habit of enjoying a green smoothie daily. Since posting the review last week I have treated myself to another week of this invigorating habit and I love it!

The winner of the ebook 40 Days of Green Smoothies is: .... comment number 5 - Jennifer Bliss! Please contact me so I can get the book to you! Congratulations!

Now for some new business:

This new book by Kathy Hester is just what you need for your Instant Pot.  

I have 2 Instant Pots myself, sitting on the kitchen island and in use almost everyday (and I even have one in the garage, in case one of the in-use ones breaks). I purchased them during Amazon's holiday sales, but if you don't have one, you might consider getting one now and not wait another 9 months. 

Kathy's book speaks directly to the Instant Pot users and the book is a wealth of information: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook for Your Instant Pot (Amazon).

There are a lot of wonderful features of this book: each recipe has a full color photo! the book lays flat when open, Kathy's first chapter is Five Recipes to Start You Out, Kathy provides a chapter on Quick and Easy Homemade Staples, and even has a chapter devoted to Cook it All at the Same Time: Layered Meals with Sides that you can prepare in one cooker all at once. I have to say that I think that's my favorite chapter. Kathy even has a chapter devoted to Desserts. 

This book has Soy-free, Gluten-free and Oil-free options throughout and that should makes most everyone happy. 

Now for what I cooked!

The first thing that caught my eye was Vegan Cauliflower Queso. I love cheese sauce and I am always looking to discover new ways to make cheese sauce with whole foods. Kathy's sauce was on point! Rich, thick and just what a cheese sauce should be.

Then I tried the Southern Breakfast. This recipe is from the Cook It All at the Same Time chapter. You cook the grits layer and the scrambled tofu layer (and then I added collard greens that I cooked with the rest of the layers) in the Instant Pot. There are tricks to cooking everything together, which Kathy shares in the book. This was an easy and delicious breakfast meal!

Next I tried a one-pot meal from the Fast and Comforting One-Pot Meals chapter: Ricotta Penne Pie. This was another delicious meal, but because I used Toffuti brand Ricotta it came out a bit too sweet. Kathy has a ricotta recipe in the book, one I should have taken the time to make!

Finally, we tried the Easy Andouille Jambalaya from the Fast and Comforting One-Pot Meals chapter. This recipe uses vegan andouille links from the book (but, again, I used store-bought links because of time restriction). This was mighty delicious and it made plenty to last for a few meals. 

Now for a recipe for you to try! How about a healthy and delicious dessert? Kathy has graciously offered to share her Holiday Orange Spice Cake! The photo below was taken by Kathy, along with all the other gorgeous photos in the book!

Holiday Orange Spice Cake

Recipe from The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook for Your Instant Pot by Kathy Hester. 
Printed with permission from Page Street Publishing.


1¼ cups (150 g) whole wheat pastry flour (or *use a gluten-free baking mix)
1½ tsp (4 g) ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground allspice
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp ground cloves

½ cup (120 ml) orange juice with pulp (about 1 medium orange)
⅓ cup (80 ml) maple syrup or agave nectar
2 tbsp (14 g) ground flaxseeds
3 tbsp (41 g) melted coconut oil (or **use applesauce)

2 tbsp (12 g) orange zest (or 1 tsp orange extract)
¾ cup (75 g) dried cranberries or diced dried dates
½ cup (55 g) chopped walnuts or pecans
Oil a 6- or 7-inch (15- or 17.5-cm) Bundt pan and set aside.


For the dry ingredients, mix the flour, cinnamon, allspice, baking soda and cloves in a medium-size mixing bowl.

For the wet ingredients, Combine the juice, syrup, flaxseeds and oil in a large measuring cup. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well. Fold in the mix-ins.

Spread the cake mixture into your prepared pan and cover with foil.

Put the steel insert into your Instant Pot, pour in 1½ cups (355 ml) water and add the stainless steel steam rack with handles that came with your Instant Pot.

If your pan does not fit inside the rack handles, you will need to fashion some handles out of aluminum foil to lower the pan into the cooker. Tear off two pieces of foil about 3 feet (1 m) long, fold each one lengthwise two times. Lay the foil handles out on the counter in a plus sign near your cooker. Place your pan in the center, where the two pieces cross. Pull the handles up and carefully lift the pan into your Instant Pot.

Place the lid on with the steam release handle set to sealing, or closed; cook on high pressure for 35 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally.

Once the pressure indicator goes down, remove the lid, lift out the pan using the foil handles and remove the foil that’s covering the pan.

Let cool so that it cuts easier; it will crumble if cut warm.

Mar 9, 2017

40 days of green smoothies + giveaway

Hello! Hello! It's been a while since I've posted because I've been taking a few classes at my local community college and they are kicking my butt, but now I am here to apologize for my absence in the nicest way possible - a cookbook giveaway!

Not just any cookbook, though... one that is near and dear to me because it is written and published by my fellow blogger and cookbook author friend, Becky Striepe from Glue and Glitter. She is one ambitious and amazingly talented young woman!

I wanted to present my review of this fabulous book when the weather started warming up because I know that smoothies sound better then, instead of in the winter months - and that's coming from my kids, who, you know, know everything.

Becky's green smoothie book is her second self-published volume (after Bowls! - which is another fantastic book and I encourage you to get your own copy; it is available in ebook and print.)

This book isn't just any smoothie book, however. Becky presents 40 smoothie recipes that each make one smoothie (easily doubled, however), which means that if the family isn't partaking your green smoothie adventure with you, you don't need them to!

The book presents the smoothies in weekly order, with a short shopping list preceding each week. Helpful, I know! The smoothies won't break your bank or your waistline with tons of included fruit - the fruit in each smoothie is just enough!

I started my 40 day smoothie adventure with the basic Strawberry Banana green smoothie and it was as delicious as it was easy to make.

Slight confession: I tend to be a bit heavier handed with the greens than Becky suggests using, so my smoothies aren't quite as colorful as hers are, but they are just as delicious, I am sure!

In that same weekly rotation was this scrumptious Chocolate Shake, which, again, I overdid with greens.

Note that all 40 days of green smoothies are completely different! The range is extraordinary and Becky shows off her creativity with smoothies such as Peachy Chocolate Blast, Spicy Mango Tango and Almond-Horchata, to name a few.

There are 6 weeks of unique, healthy and amazing smoothies in this beautiful little book and it will get you started on your smoothie habit with ease and simplicity.

Becky has offered to share one of the recipes from her book: Coconut Blackout Smoothie AND she has graciously offered to allow me to giveaway an ebook copy of 40 Days of Green Smoothies (Kindle, Amazon)! To enter the contest to win simply leave a comment (and make sure I can get in touch with you!!!) and come back here next Thursday (March 16) to see if you are the winner. Good luck!!

Coconut Blackout Smoothie

Lettuce has an even lighter flavor than spinach in a smoothie, so don’t be shy about adding a healthy handful. Most lettuce is pretty watery, so your lettuce smoothies will be a little thinner than the green smoothies you’re used to.

1 banana
1/2 cup frozen blackberries
1/2 cup of lettuce
1/2 cup light coconut milk
1/4-1/2 cup of water, as needed to get things moving
1 tablespoon chia seeds
3 ice cubes

Puree until smooth.

Yield: 1 serving

Reprinted with permission from 40 Days of Green Smoothies, © Becky Striepe.