Saturday, July 8, 2017

Spicy Peanut Tofu with Veggies over Brown Rice

Spicy Peanut Tofu with Veggies over Brown Rice

I've been making this dish on a regular basis for about a year now.  We've always had weekly stir frys, but this is the next step up! We love it because it is super filling, contains fried tofu, vegetables, rice, and is just spicy enough to make our mouths really happily excited. Our favorite vegetables to include are carrots, broccoli, and red bell pepper but I tend to use whatever is seasonal and in the fridge.  For instance, last night we had asparagus because there was about 1/2 bunch (last of the season!) from the Farmer's market. There are a few steps to this dish, but none of it is all that hard to do. While tofu is cooking, make the sauce, then wash and chop the first vegetables to be cooked and while tofu and sauce are "marrying" cook the vegetables, layering in newly washed and chopped veggies as you go. Scroll down through the photos for the directions. I hope you try it and enjoy!

I found this recipe in its original form on  I tweaked it a bit, but really the recipe on I Love Vegan blog should get full credit.  Thank you, I Love Vegan, for the inspiration.
 1 pound of tofu cubed


I use coconut oil to fry the tofu.
 This is the chili garlic sauce I buy - Lee Kum Kee brand.  Not organic, though 😕.

 Frying the tofu. Mine always sticks but I am a bit stingy about how much oil I use.

 The delicious yummy spicy peanut sauce! It's rich and robust and just right in terms of spicy.

 Fried tofu dumped into the sauce while vegetables are being cooked.

 Vegetable saute in sesame oil.


For Tofu:
1 pound of tofu cubed
1 tablespoon (or more) coconut oil

For Sauce:
6 - 8 tablespoons Bragg's amino acid (you can use soy sauce)
3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil 
3 tablespoons garlic chili sauce
1 tablespoon siracha
4 tablespoons peanut butter
4 frozen garlic cubes from Trader Joe's - this is equal to 4 cloves minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 - 3 tablespoons sesame seeds

For Vegetable Saute:
1 tablespoon sesame oil 
6 - 8 cups chopped vegetables (the more the better - just sayin')

1.  Put rice in rice cooker.
2.  Fry cubed tofu in oil.
3. While tofu is cooking, combine all the ingredients for peanut sauce and whisk it.  Hint - I store peanut butter in the fridge, so I always let it come to room temp or do a quick microwave heat up before adding it in to the sauce for whisking.
4.  Wash and chop vegetables
5.  When tofu is finished cooking, add it to the sauce so it can soak up some of the spicy yummy flavors.
6.  Saute' vegetables in sesame oil.  I start with carrots and sometimes onion and then layer in vegetables on top of that.
7.  When vegetables are cooked add the tofu and sauce.  I like to cover it and let it sit for about 5 - 10 minutes so that the sauce trickles down over all the vegetables.
8.  Serve over brown rice.


Monday, December 22, 2014

Coconut Bliss Balls

Coconut Bliss Balls

The photo does not do these unbelievable little dark chocolate coconut amazeballs justice! I ran into this recipe somewhere on social media, perhaps one of the many websites that I peruse looking for yummy plant based food to make. I can't remember and it's such an easy recipe that I have now memorized it.These one bite dessert truffle balls have only a few ingredients: organic shredded coconut, organic coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla, dark chocolate, and sea salt.  I have made them for parties, potlucks, gifts, and personal consumption. Easy to make and every time I feed one to someone, they smile.

Here they are all rolled up and awaiting dark chocolate dipping.  You can see the coconut oil and maple syrup in the background.

I know... what, another picture of the coconut bliss balls waiting to be dipped, but take a closer look at the right side of the photo... there's my old guy laying on the kitchen floor just hoping and dog praying that I will drop the whole damn pan!

My big guy's Mom joined him at the edge of the begging counter.  Aren't they cute?  I did give them each a little bite of coconut oil but no chocolate (dog's can't have that).

Dark chocolate all melty good just waiting for bliss ball dipping!

Coconut Bliss Ball Recipe and Instructions
Makes about 12 bliss balls
  1. 1 cup medium or finely shredded organic coconut (Do not get the sugared kind that comes in plastic bags in the baking section of most grocery stores. Buy yourself some good organic shredded coconut)
  2. 3 Tablespoons coconut oil
  3. 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
  4. 1/2 - 1 tsp vanilla
  5. 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips or chunks
Pull out your cuisinart and dump in the coconut, coconut oil, maple syrup, and vanilla.  Cuisinart it all up, stopping to scrape the sides, until you have a big ball of coconut goodness.  

Roll up 12 coconut balls with your hands and place on a cookie sheet (the balls roll so it should have sides, just sayin') covered with parchment paper.  I put the rolled coconut balls in the freezer while I melt the chocolate.

Melt about 1/2 cup or more of dark chocolate in a double boiler.

Dip the frozen set coconut balls in the chocolate and make sure they get thoroughly covered (careful, it is hot!).   Place back on the covered cookie sheet and sprinkle with sea salt. Do not forget the salt because it's the bomb - sweet, dense, and salty treats!  Be careful because the chocolate sets quickly and you need to get the salt on before that happens.

I store these little gems in the freezer.  They keep really well for a long time.

I took these to a party recently and no one was even aware that these are VEGAN, baby!  

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Baby Potatoes and Artichokes with Lemon and Rosemary

Baby Potatoes and Artichokes
Lemon and Rosemary

The new Vegetarian Times magazine came recently and I actually had time to peruse it!  There is a 4 page article on "Short - order Stews".  In other words, these stews should take you 30 minutes to make.  I don't know about you, but it always takes me longer than recipes suggest in terms of time.  I will say, though, that this Potato/Artichoke dish was pretty easy to make!

The article contains recipes for:

Tuscan Kale and White Bean Stew with Breadcrumb Topping
Baby Potatoes and Artichokes with Lemon and Rosemary
Brussel Sprouts and Carrot Ragout
Smoky Black Bean and Butternut Ragout
Spiced Cauliflower and Chickpea Stew

Here was my thought process.... I love potatoes.  I already have a great recipe for kale and white bean stew cooked in the pressure cooker.  I can only find organic brussel sprouts at the West Side Farmer's Market on Saturdays and I wasn't going this last weekend.  Cauliflower - yuck!  I had just made a huge crock pot full of black beans last week and we were kind of full of beans, if you get my drift.  So, baby potatoes it was.

I had a can of artichoke hearts in my pantry.  I use artichoke hearts in a Greek tofu scramble I make, on vegan BBQ pizza, and occasionally in salads.

This recipe calls for an entire can of artichoke hearts cut in half.  That was easy prep.

I had never fried or sautéed artichoke hearts.  This recipe calls to sauté the artichoke hearts cut side down in olive oil.  I used my dutch oven rather than a fry pan.

 What can go wrong with 4 cups of baby red potatoes!

Here are my artichoke hearts lightly sautéed.  While they were cooking I prepped everything else.  I think that's what makes this recipe fairly easy and fast.  Get the artichoke hearts cooking and then wash and cut the potatoes, slice the kalamata olives, and chop the garlic and rosemary.

Cooking the potatoes was interesting.  This recipe calls for raw potatoes put into a pan with some olive oil.  I was skeptical.  It worked!  I did add some of the vegetable broth a bit earlier than the recipe suggests just to be certain I would have cooked potatoes at the end.

Quartered Kalamata olives, chopped garlic, and fresh rosemary.  The rosemary needs to be fresh.  It was such an amazing addition to this dish.

This is a photo near the end of cooking time with everything added and ready to simmer - potatoes, artichoke hearts, olives, garlic, rosemary, and lemon zest.

Baby Potatoes and Artichoke Hearts
with Lemon and Rosemary

2plus Tbs. Olive oil
1        13.75 can water packed artichoke hearts, rinsed,      
          drained, and halved
4        cups quartered baby potatoes
1/3     cup pitted Kalamata olives, quartered
2plus  cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tsp)
1        tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1        tsp grated lemon zest
1/2     cup or more of vegetable broth

1.  Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven over low heat.  Remember that olive oil is not a high heat oil.  Cook artichoke hearts cut side down for 5 minutes or so.  Do not stir.  They should brown lightly.  Transfer to a plate.

2.  While you are cooking the artichoke hearts, prep the potatoes, olives, garlic, and rosemary.

3.  After removing artichoke hearts from the pan, heat the rest of your olive oil and add potatoes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Stir the potatoes, make sure the heat is on low to medium-low, and cover.  Cook about 5 - 8 minutes.

4.  Add the chopped garlic to the potatoes and cook for another minute.  Stir to incorporate the garlic.

5.  Add about 1/4 cup or more of the vegetable broth and cover again for another few minutes.  Keep checking the "doneness" of your potatoes.

6.  When the potatoes are cooked but not completely soft, add the artichokes, olives, rosemary and lemon zest.  Stir.  Add another 1/2 cup or so of vegetable broth, cover, and simmer for 5 or 6 minutes.  The potatoes should be tender and the liquid reduced to a light gravy.

We ate our potato ragout with a huge dinner plate of salad. It was so yummy and delicious.  The rosemary and lemon zest were amazing additions.  This dish was savory, tangy, and salty all at once.  Yum.

 We often make salad the "star" of the meal and have some other cooked vegetable on the side.

Never fear.... we got our protein.  First of all, we don't need nearly as much protein as current culture suggests.  Secondly, we added a vegan tofu burger cooked and cut up like croutons and garbanzo beans.  This salad also had chopped mixed baby lettuce, carrots, cucumber, apple, avocado and red pepper.  I dressed it with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper.

During the day on Sunday I simmered homemade stock in two huge stock pots.  While I cook I keep a gallon ziploc bag on the counter and I throw all the little bits and pieces of washed things I don't use - onion, celery, pepper, ends of zucchini, leek, tomato, garlic, carrots, etc.  When I have a collection of 2 or 3 gallon bags in the freezer I pull them out and empty them into stock pots with water and add some Italian herbs and salt and pepper.  Bring all of that to a boil and then simmer gently for a few hours.  Strain it and pour into recycled salsa or hummus containers and throw it into the freezer.  You always have stock on hand that way.  Take the strained cooked vegetables out to the compost.  You always have compost building to put into your vegetable and flower garden!  

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Vegan Greek Pasta with a Side of Broccoli

Vegan Greek Pasta
a side of Broccoli

How can you go wrong with a plate full of noodles mixed with all sorts of yummy things related somehow to the concept of "Greek"?  Onions, garlic, olive oil, fresh Roma tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes in oil, black Kalamata olives, artichoke hearts, pine nuts, fresh basil, white beans and spinach - maybe we should call this dish "Mediterranean Pasta" or "This is the bomb pasta" or "Really really yummy noodles mixed with deliciousness"?  Whatever, you get my drift.

I started off with a warm sauté pan, some salt and a generous couple dollops of olive oil and  then added chopped onion and garlic.  Since olive oil is not a high heat oil I cooked these things slowly over low heat.  While they cooked I prepared all the other ingredients and got a big pot of water, salt, and a bit of olive oil started towards a boil.  The list is long but it was really pretty easy to do. Ok, I admit it... I listened to one of my teen favorites, Fleetwood Mac , while I cooked.  Cooking to music is fun, especially music you can sing all the lyrics to and freak your daughter out while doing it! And your equally "old" husband can sing along too!

I chopped up a bunch of Roma tomatoes from our garden.

Here's the rest of what I used - lemon juice, quartered artichoke hearts, pine nuts, Kalamata olives, sun dried tomatoes, fresh basil, thyme, oregano, and handfuls of fresh spinach.

I think chopping garlic is a hassle.  I think pressing garlic is a hassle.  I love garlic.  I do garlic even though I think it's a hassle.  Just get over it, sing to Fleetwood Mac, and be with the garlic.  Here's my garlic, chef knife, and this amazing bottle of olive oil I recently bought.

After I had the onions and garlic in salt and oil for a bit I added the chopped Roma toms and let that cook until the tomatoes began to break up.  Then I added the other yumminess and let it cook while the spaghetti noodles boiled.

Another photo of yumminess. So many treats in this pasta "sauce".

I added handfuls of baby spinach I bought from the Farmer's Market this week.  The spinach pretty much disappears in this dish so you can use a lot of it.  I tend to just put it on top of the "sauce" and then cover so it begins to wilt.  It doesn't have to cook long.  You can add another bunch of handfuls after the first bunch wilts into the sauce.  I think this could be any type of "green" like chard, beet greens, or kale.  Kale is a bit more coarse and may take a bit longer to cook than spinach.

Hip Hip hooray for a daughter who is home from College and can snap a photo while I unload the pasta into the pan of sauce.

Ready to eat.....

Vegan "Greek" Pasta

1/2 small onion, chopped
4 - 8 cloves garlic, chopped or pressed
2 - 3 generous tablespoons olive oil
bit of salt
2 - 4 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
1/2 cup sliced or chopped pitted Kalamata olives
1 cup quartered artichoke hearts
1/2 cup or more fresh basil, chopped
1/2 cup chopped oil packed sun dried tomatoes
1 cup white beans
1/4 - 1/2 cup pine nuts
1 tsp oregano
1/2 teaspoon thyme
4 - 8 cups washed spinach leaves
juice of one lemon
salt and pepper to taste

1.  Put a large sauté pan on the stove top and begin to heat it.  Add 2 - 3 generous tablespoons olive oil and a pinch or two of salt.  Add the chopped onion and garlic.  Be as generous as you like with the garlic.  You can use a red onion or a yellow or even fresh spring onion.  Cook over low heat until the onion begins to turn translucent.

You should probably put on the noodle cooking water, as well.

2.  Add the chopped tomatoes.  Stir and cook for another 5 minutes or so while the tomatoes break down a bit.  Don't worry if the pan seems to be full of tomato juice - the pasta will soak it right up.

3.  Stir in the olives, artichoke hearts, fresh basil, sun dried tomatoes, white beans, oregano and thyme.  Cook another 5 minutes or so.

4.  Add the pine nuts, juice from one lemon, and as much of the spinach as fits.  Cover lightly with a lid and allow to cook until spinach begins to wilt.  Stir and add the rest of the spinach. Cover again.  The spinach will cook fast.  

5.  Add the noodles directly into the "sauce" and stir.  Turn the heat off.  Cover and leave on the stove top.  Add salt and pepper to taste.


Quick Broccoli Saute'

A bunch of washed and trimmed broccoli florets 
 1 - 2 tablespoons canola or coconut oil (must be high heat oil)
2 tablespoons water

1.  Wash and cut the broccoli.

2.  Heat a sauté pan over medium high heat and add the high heat oil.  Watch for sputtering. Tilt the pan and get the oil to cover the bottom of the pan lightly.  Add the broccoli florets and cover.  Cook for 2 minutes over fairly high heat.

3.  Remove lid, add the 2 tablespoons of water mixed with the salt.  I use a 1/4 cup measuring cup.  I add the water to the cup and then a couple pinches of salt.  Cover the pan immediately and cook for 2 more minutes.  This will steam the quick fried broccoli and make it just right salty.

4.  Turn the heat off immediately after the second 2 minutes and eat promptly while it's still hot. 

This is my family's favorite way to eat broccoli.  This broccoli not only makes a great side dish but it is an amazing baked potato topper!

Remember that you can cut the use of oil dramatically in either of these recipes if you are looking to reduce calories.  Oil has a calorie content of about 120 calories per tablespoon.  We need fat in our diets but cutting the use of oils can really help with calorie reduction and remember that oil is a processed food.  In terms of nutrition, it is best to get our fats from whole food sources like nuts, avocado, etc.

Be creative with your pasta dish.  You could add your chopped broccoli into the sauce you are making. If fresh tomatoes aren't available you could easily add a can of chopped tomatoes.  You could use many types of greens including chard, beet greens, dandelion greens, sorrel, or kale.  Green olives could replace black olives.  Chopped almonds could replace pine nuts.  Garbanzo beans could replace white beans.  

This is an easy quick delicious meal... enjoy!

Remember to eat your greens.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Refrigerator Pickles


Forgive me, foodies, for I have sinned. It's been 5 months since my last blog post. 

How did it happen?  One day after another I chose to do the many other things in my life that make up a busy working woman with a multitude of interests kind of gal.  Some of the more important things were spending time with my daughter who was home from College this summer, applying to graduate school, gardening, sewing, and spending time with family. (I do admit to spending much too much wasted time checking in with Facebook and this simply needs to change!)

I am an avid reader of the Smitten Kitchen blog  I love the delightful fresh blogs and occasionally I can actually make the recipes when they are 100% plant based.  Recently Smitten Kitchen posted a refrigerator pickle recipe that is both ridiculously easy and delicious! 

It is still the season of cucumbers so I highly recommend you run out to the nearest Farmer's Market in your area and pick up 8 - 10 cucumbers and get busy making these yummy pickles.

Refrigerator Pickles
8 - 10 pickling cucumbers
3 tsp coarse kosher salt
1 - 2 Tbsp fresh chopped dill 

1 - 2 Tbsp pickling spice

a combo of both and 1 or more crushed garlic cloves

1/2 cup white vinegar

1.  Wash the cucumbers and leave the skin on if you have organic cucs.

2.  Slice the cucumbers about 1/8 inch thin.  I do not use a mandolin slicer because I have purchased and given away at least two so obviously I don't like them and am deathly afraid of them!  I just used my knife carefully and if every single little cucumber slice isn't perfect, oh well.

3.  Put the cucumbers in a large jar.

 4.  Add the chopped dill or other pickling spices, the salt, and the vinegar.

5.  Close the jar and shake vigorously!  It will look like there is not nearly enough liquid for how many cucumbers are in the jar.  Trust.

6.  Put the jar in the fridge.  I try to shake the jar at least two more times before diving in.  I also try to leave the pickles in the fridge overnight but the original recipe says they are done in about 2 hours.

Here's a bit of a disorienting view from the top.  You can see the dill and pickling spices on top of the cucumbers.

Pre-refrigeration view.  Everything is nicely shaken and ready to marinate and pickle in the fridge.

In the last two days I have had the refrigerator cucumbers alone in a bowl, on a big green salad, and piled on my veggie burger lunch.

This was yesterday's lunch.  A vegan griller patty on a "one" bun which is a very thin whole wheat bun.  I piled romaine, garden toms, Annie's spread, avocado, and refrigerator pickles on the burger.  It was a mess.  I had an amazing sliced peach on the side.  Delicious!

Nice to be back blogging.  Remember to eat your greens!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Norah's Lemon Lemon Cookies

Norah's Lemon Lemon Cookies
A delightful burst of lemon sunshine 

I received Isa Chandra Moskowitz's new cookbook, Isa Does It, for Christmas this year.  Everything I have made from this vegan cookbook has been pretty spectacular.  I have now made the "Norah's lemon lemon" cookies about a half dozen times.

For the past two years during Valentine's week I have made cookies for all my yoga classes. My students raved about these lemony dream cookies. They are made with coconut oil and lots of lemon rind.  The coconut oil, sugar, and flour combine to make a dense shortbread like cookie.  Top them with the ultra lemony frosting drizzle and I bet you can't eat just one!

Here's the recipe.  

Norah's Lemon Lemon Cookies
from "Isa Does It"
page 283
(buy this cookbook now!)

For the cookies:
1/2 cup unrefined coconut oil, melted
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons almond milk
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
(I used the zest from 3 lemons)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon organic cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the glaze:
2 cups confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon refined coconut oil, melted

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare two baking sheets.

2.  In a large bowl, use a fork to beat together the coconut oil and sugar - about a minute.  Add the almond milk, lemon zest, and vanilla, and beat another minute or so until it resembles applesauce.

3.  Add about half the flour, as well as the cornstarch, baking powder, and salt.  Mix well.  Add the remaining flour and mix until a soft dough forms.

4.  Scoop the dough onto the baking sheets in rounded spoonfuls.  Flatten the tops gently with your fingers. I also pressed a fork into the cookies so there were grooves to catch the yummy lemon glaze.

5.  Bake for 10 - 12 minutes, until the bottoms are golden brown. In my first couple batches I cooked too long because the tops remain fairly white. I let the tops brown a bit and the cookie was really too dense for my liking. You really need to check the bottoms of the cookie - light brown is good while the top remains pretty white.

6. Let cool on the sheets for a few minutes or so, then transfer to cookie racks to let cool all the way.

7.  For the glaze, place the confectioner's sugar in a bowl.  Sift it if it is really clumpy.  Add the lemon juice, vanilla, and coconut oil and stir vigorously until a thick and smooth but pourable icing forms. 
Note:  I think 2 cups is too much for one batch.  I used less this last time and had none left over. Play with it for consistency and taste.

8.  While the cookies are on the racks, spoon the glaze over each one, letting it drip down the sides. This will make your counters very sticky unless you put down parchment paper first.  You can also sprinkle with lemon zest. Let the glaze set for 10 - 20 minutes (yeah, right.)

This is the coconut oil and sugar beaten together.

Added the almond milk, vanilla, and a bunch of lemon zest.
Listen, if you don't own a "zester", go to the store and buy one. It's a must have in the kitchen!

All beaten together and ready for the flour and baking powder, etc.

Nothing to do with the cookies, except maybe you'll serve these cookies while playing this game at your next Games Night Party.  This game is super raunchy and absolutely hilarious.  We just played it for the first time the other night and laughed our heads off. Your cheeks and jaw will hurt the next day from laughing and grimacing!(and maybe from chewing too many cookies)

 You can see the lemon glaze in this photo.
These are super duper yummy treats!

Be well, everyone!