Vegan Casseroles by Julie Hasson – Recipe and a Contest!

Casseroles_cvr.qxd_Layout 1I’m super excited to be hosting Julie Hasson on her Vegan Casseroles blog tour today! She’s here with a recipe from the book and an exciting giveaway!

 

ZucchiniBasil - Vegan CasserolesThe word “casserole” makes me think of my childhood. My brain conjures up images of wood-paneled station wagons pulling up in front of homes decorated in macramé with floral corningware dishes baking in avocado green ovens. I don’t think we had a wood-paneled station wagon, macramé, or an avocado green oven, so it’s possible that I’m remembering an episode of The Brady Bunch. In my brain, casseroles weren’t very fashionable food-wise for a decade or so (it could just be that I reached an age where I refused to eat them), but they’re back, baby! Casseroles are now a cold-weather mainstay in my house, as they tend to be warm and comforting. They’re also perfect for taking along to potlucks, dinner parties, holidays when you might not be sure if there will be anything vegan on offer.

 

Baked Penne with Pumpkin Cream SauceVegan Casseroles is full of, you guessed, tons of recipes for vegan casseroles. Julie has created vegan recipes for just about every type of food that can be baked in a casserole dish, from Mac and Cheese and Taco Casserole to Shepherds Pie and Eggplant Parm. There are recipes for lasagna, quiche, enchiladas, kugels, cornbread casseroles, and even desserts “casseroles” such as crisps, crumbles, and puddings. There’s a chapter devoted to sauces, toppings, and basics, making it easy to create your own casserole based on Julie’s recipes. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all of the dishes I’ve made from Vegan Casseroles so far, which include the comforting Rice and Broccoli Casserole; the spicy Bean and Rice Casserole (I accidentally made too much rice and had to use it up somehow!); Baked Penne with Pumpkin Cream Sauce, which is perfect for this time of year; and the Cranberry Apple Crumble, which was the perfect dish to use up some of the apples from my apple picking trip a few weeks ago. I have ton more recipes bookmarked, and I know I’ll be cooking with Vegan Casseroles quite often in the cold months to come.

 

PotatoGratin - Vegan CasserolesTo celebrate the release of Vegan Casseroles, Julie has a chance for one lucky person to win a Breville Smart Oven! Five runners up will receive a copy of Vegan Casseroles. Follow the instructions at the bottom of the post to enter.

 

Baby Greens CasseroleBaby Greens with Cashew Cream Sauce (Gluten Free)

One of my favorite dishes growing up was creamed spinach. I haven’t had the dairy version in years, but this is a perfect re-creation, with a combination of baby kale, chard, and spinach, bathed in a creamy cashew sauce. I adapted the original recipe from Whole Foods Market. Feel free to substitute chopped kale for the baby greens blend.

Serves 2 to 4 as a side

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup plain unsweetened soymilk or other nondairy milk
  • 1/4 cup raw unsalted cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours and drained
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 teaspoon granulated onion
  • 1 tablespoon white miso paste
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, finely minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • 6 cups mixed baby greens (such as kale, chard, and spinach) or chopped kale or other dark, leafy green

 

Preparation:

In a blender, add the soymilk, cashews, nutritional yeast, granulated onion, and miso and purée until smooth and silky.

Heat the oil in a large, nonreactive skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and garlic and cook until they just turn golden. Add the cashew cream mixture to the skillet and bring to a simmer. Stir in the greens, folding them into the sauce until they begin to wilt. Continue to simmer, stirring often, until the greens are tender, about 5 minutes. If the sauce is too thick, you can thin it with a little bit of water.

 

Tip: If you’re using a high-speed blender, you can skip the soaking step for the cashews and just use them dry. Add a little extra water to blend if needed.

 

Reprinted with permission from VEGAN CASSEROLES © 2014 by Julie Hasson, Running Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group.

 

Follow the instructions below for a chance to win a Breville Smart Oven. Five runners up with win copies of Vegan Casseroles. U.S. residents only, please. Contest ends on November 12th. Good luck!

 

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The Lusty Vegan – Recipe and Giveaway

TLV Cover Full Size Lo-ResI’m happy to be hosting The Lusty Vegan blog tour today!  The Lusty Vegan is a project I’ve been close to, as I do freelance work for the book’s publisher Vegan Heritage Press, and I designed the cover! I enjoy working on projects like this because it combines my love of vegan cooking with my background in design.

 

Chia Pudding

The Lusty Vegan is part cookbook, part lifestyle book for vegans and those who love them. It was written by Ayindé Howell and Zoë Eisenberg, both of iEatGrass.com fame. Ayinde and Zoe are both longtime vegans, but neither has ever dated another vegan. After comparing notes, they realized the need for a manifesto to help vegans and omnivores navigate their cross-cuisine love life. The book shares tips—both culinary and romantic—for vegans who want to satisfy the appetites of their omnivorous counterpart, and for non-vegans who want to impress their plant-based partners.

 

Cajun tofu and dirty quinoa

Dennis and I went vegan together many years ago, so things have been pretty easy for me, but I remember my vegetarian days when I dated meat-eaters, and this book would have really come in handy back then. That doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the book at all though, as Ayindé’s recipes are quite incredible.

 

I have a copy of The Lusty Vegan for one lucky reader. Follow the instructions at the end of the post to enter. Be sure to also check out my interview with Ayindé Howell and Zoë Eisenberg on Chic Vegan.

 

Sausage with Biscuits

Breakfast Andouille Sausage with Biscuits

Prep time: 5 minutes | Cook time: 20 minutes | Serves 2 to 4

 

You can prep the sausage a day or two in advance, and the biscuits are pretty quick as well. They can also be made in advance and frozen, then defrosted when you need them.

 

Ingredients: 

Biscuits

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 tablespoons vegan butter, very cold
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk

 

Sausage

  • 3/4 cup Lightlife Gimme Lean vegan sausage
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon gumbo filé powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Grapeseed or safflower oil
  • 1/2 cup julienned green bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup julienned red onion
  • 1/2 cup vegan cheese shreds

 

Optional Toppings

  • Vegan butter
  • Raspberry jam (or you favorite flavor)

 

Preparation

 

  1. Biscuits: Preheat the oven to 425°F. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Using a fork, mix in the cold butter until it becomes the size of small peas. Slowly add the milk, gradually stirring until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl.

 

  1. Place the dough onto a floured surface, and knead 15 to 20 times. Pat or roll the dough out to a 1-inch thickness. Cut the biscuits with a large cookie cutter or the top of a juice glass dipped in flour. Repeat until all the dough is used. Brush off the excess flour, and place the biscuits onto a lightly floured baking sheet. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes, or until the edges begin to brown.

 

  1. Sausage: In a large bowl, break up the sausage. Add the Cajun seasoning, paprika, minced garlic, black pepper salt, file powder, chili powder, red pepper flakes, and cumin. Mix well. Take 1/4 cup of the sausage mixture and form into a 1/2 inch thick patty. Repeat until all patties are formed. It should make 4 patties.

 

  1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1/4 cup oil until hot and shimmering. Fry the patties for 3 to 5 minutes on each side until golden brown. Transfer the patties to paper towels to cool. Reserve the oil in the skillet.

 

  1. Reheat the skillet with the oil from the sausage over medium heat. Add the bell pepper and onion and sauté until caramelized, 5 to 7 minutes. Use a spatula to push the onions and peppers into four piles large enough to cover the sausage patties and sprinkle the top of each veggie pile with 2 tablespoons of cheese, allowing it to melt. Using a spatula, place the vegetables and melted cheese on top of each sausage patty. Serve with hot biscuits topped with butter and jam, if using, on the side.

 

 

From The Lusty Vegan © 2014 by Ayinde Howell and Zoe Eisenberg. Used with permission from Vegan Heritage Press.

 

Follow the instructions below to for a chance to win a copy of The Lusty Vegan. US residents only, please. Contest ends a midnight on October 29th. Good luck!

 

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Vegan Without Borders by Robin Robertson – Recipe and Giveaway

Vegan Without BordersI don’t know how she does it, but Robin Robertson has managed to write yet another amazing vegan cookbook! Vegan Without Borders is her newest opus, and it’s a gorgeous hardcover book full of delicious recipes and mouthwatering recipes.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn Vegan Without Borders, Robin has used her culinary know-how to veganize traditional meals from the around the globe.   Like her other cookbooks, she uses easy-to-find ingredients and the dishes are not difficult to make, so it’s easy to cook up world cuisine at home. I’ve cooked with other books that have forced me to either drive around all of northern New Jersey looking for ingredients or place an online order for way more of a spice than I actually need, and I’ve also spent hours in the kitchen cooking up meals that took less than half an hour to eat, so I appreciate the ease of  Robin’s recipes.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAVegan Without Borders is organized by continent, starting in Europe with Italy, France, Spain and Portugal, Greens, Eastern Europe, and the British Isles. From there we visit The Americas, with recipes from the U.S., Mexico, the Carribbean, and South America. The next stop is Africa, with recipes for such tasty dishes as Falafel Pie, Spicy Couscous with Carrots and Chickpeas, and Vegetable Tagine. Next up is The Middle East with recipes for traditional dishes like Za’atar Roasted Cauliflower and Stuffed Dates. Next up is India with recipes for dals, curries, and chutneys. The final stop is Asia, with recipes from China, Thailand, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and Southeast Asia Islands.

 

SproutsI wish I could tell you that through Vegan Without Borders I’ve taken a culinary tour of the the globe, but the truth is that I haven’t been able to get past the Europe chapter yet! I cook Asian and Indian-inspired dishes quite often, and I rarely cook European cuisine, but the dishes in the book’s first chapter have been calling to me. So far I’ve enjoyed Roasted Ratatouille with Basil Pisou, Farinata with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Olives, Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Walnuts, and – my favorite dish from the book to date – Seitan Jagerschnitzel.

 

I have a copy of Vegan Without Borders for one lucky reader. Follow the instructions at the end of the post to enter.

 

Seitan Jagerschnitzle

Seitan Jagerschnitzel

Serves 4

 

Thinly sliced seitan absorbs the flavor of the rich mushroom sauce in these German “hunter’s cutlets.” You can use any kind of mushrooms you like, but I prefer using a variety of different kinds to add interest and flavor dimension to the dish.

 

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 seitan cutlets or 8 ounces seitan, thinly sliced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small yellow onion or 2 shallots, minced
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • 8 ounces fresh mushrooms (single variety or assorted), thinly sliced
  • ⅓ cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon caraway seeds, crushed or whole
  • 1 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme (optional)
  • 1½ cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch, dissolved in 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon browning sauce (optional) (Kitchen Bouquet or Gravy Master are vegan)
  • ½ cup vegan sour cream

 

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the seitan and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook until browned on both sides, about 5 minutes. Remove the seitan from the skillet and set aside on a plate. (Cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.)

 

Return the skillet to the heat and add the remaining tablespoon of oil. Add the onion and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste, mushrooms, wine, soy sauce, caraway seeds, paprika, and thyme, if using. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes.

 

Stir in the broth and bring to a boil, stir in the cornstarch mixture, decrease the heat to a low simmer and cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce has thickened and the mushrooms are tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the browning sauce, if using, and then stir in the sour cream. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if needed. Return the seitan to the skillet and continue to cook until the seitan is heated through.

 

From Vegan Without Borders by Robin Robertson/Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC.

 

I have a copy of Vegan Without Borders for one lucky winner. Follow the instructions below to enter. US residents only, please. Contest ends at midnight on Sunday, October 26th. Good luck! a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Amore Di Mona Chocolate Review and Giveaway

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Hi, my name is Dianne and I’m a chocoholic.

 

I’ve been up to my eyeballs in products and books that I need to review, and the review requests never seem to stop. I told myself that I was going to have to say no to any new requests that came my way, and the very next email I received was from Chef Meagan Jeanette, asking if I would like some samples of Amore di Mona vegan chocolate to try. I tried to resist. I really did. But how on earth could I say no to chocolate?

 

Amore di Mona Couverture Chocolat Speciale makes chocolates that are vegan, low glycemic, allergy-friendly, diabetic-friendly, gluten-free, and kosher. They’re also made with non-gmo ingredients and are free of soy, tree nuts, peanuts and artificial ingredients. The main ingredients in these luxury chocolates are Belgian cocoa solids, fair trade organic cocoa butter and raw, organic fair trade agave nectar. The chocolatiers behind Amore di Mona began making their own chocolate for their special diet dessert cakes, cookies, and muffins, because at the time there were no chocolates free of nuts, soy, gluten, and milk available on the market for purchase. Customers soon began asking to buy just the chocolate. Because of those requests, they developed a line of European-style chocolates to sell to the public.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI will admit that because of the list of items that Amore di Mona chocolates are free of, I wasn’t expecting much. I thought they might be a little chalky and brittle, and probably taste a bit bitter. When my chocolates arrived, the first one I tried was Caramela with Crunchy Coffee Beans. I love chocolate and coffee beans together, and I also love caramel, though it’s difficult to find vegan versions on the market. I took my first bite and it was heavenly. Rich dark chocolate, crunchy coffee beans, and smooth creamy caramel all packaged together in one little bite. I actually went back to the package to read the ingredients, because I thought a mistake had been made – this surely wasn’t the vegan chocolate mentioned in that email. Had they sent me the wrong package? The chocolate was indeed vegan, as it says in red letters on the front of the box. I really found it difficult to believe that this decadent confection was made with just agave nectar, cocoa butter, cocoa solids, coffee beans, and vanilla beans. Surely the chocolatiers at Amore di Mona’s must be magicians!

 

Amore di Mona’s Caramela is available in four different varieties: plan Caramela, Caramela with Cranberries, Caramela with Cherries, and Caramela with Crunchy Coffee Beans. All four are rich and decadent, and none of them lasted very long in my house. I always have a difficult time picking a favorite of anything, but if I had to, I would say I enjoyed the Crunchy Coffee Bean and the Cherry Caramela the best.

 

In addition to Caramela, Amore di Mona also has chocolate bars. It took me a little while to dip into the chocolate, as I was in the throws of my love affair with Caramela. The chocolate bars are made with the same rich and decadent chocolate, and are available plain, with currants, or with crunchy coffee beans. This chocolate is smooth and creamy, and just a few squares of this luscious treat satisfied my chocolate cravings.

 

Fellow chocoholics are in luck, because Amore di Mona has a mixed case of chocolates for one lucky Veggiegirl reader! The winner will receive 2 boxes of each flavor, a $56 retail value. Follow the instructions below to enter. US residents only, please. Contest ends at midnight eastern time on Sunday, October 19th. Good luck!

 

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The Forks Over Knives Plan

The Forks Over Knives PlantIf you’ve seen the film Forks Over Knives, then you’re already familiar with the concept behind The Forks Over Knives Plan, which is, in a nutshell, eating a plant-based, whole foods diet for optimal health. This is not a fad diet, nor is it a deprivation diet – it’s a scientifically proven way of living that can both prevent and reverse disease.

 

The Forks Over Knives Plan was put together by two doctors – Alona Pulde, MD and Matthew Lederman, MD – who realized that prescribing medication to their patients was just masking symptoms rather than curing diseases. After years of working with people who were ill with chronic diseases, they came to the realization that food is truly the best medicine. I’ve done enough studying and reading to know that the American health care system is in dire need of an overhaul, but some of the statistics in The Forks Over Knives Plan really shocked me. Did you know that every fifty three seconds someone in the US dies of heart disease? Or that cancer takes the lives about 1,500 Americans day? 10% of the population now has diabetes, and obesity has doubled in children in the past thirty years. Nearly 70% of people in the US are on prescription medications, but instead of getting healthier, Americans are just getting sicker.

 

Quinao and Millet with KaleThe Forks Over Knives Plan is based on the works of T. Colin Campbell, PhD; Caldwell Esselstyn, MD; Dean Ornish, MD; John McDougall, MD; and Neal Barnard, MD. Thanks to the research of these pioneers, there is scientific evidence that a whole foods, plant-based diet can prevent and reverse a whole host of chronic diseases that includes heart disease and diabetes. It also improves mental clarity, helps people reach their ideal weight, improves mood, and aids in better sleep, among other positive “side effects”.

 

The actual plan behind The Forks Over Knives Plan is a four-week diet and lifestyle overhaul that will help you transition to a whole foods, plant-based diet. The first week focuses on breakfast, and starting the day out with a healthy meal that will be sustainable throughout the morning. There’s also advice on how to read food nutrition labels, how to keep a well stocked plant-based kitchen, and how to shop without breaking the bank.

 

South of the Border PizzaWeek two focuses on lunch, meal planning, and the food mood connection. Week three deals with dinner, bulk cooking, and cravings. The fourth and final week is all about bringing it all together and fine-tuning this new plant-based lifestyle. The book concludes with 100 delicious recipes by Darshana Thacker and Chef Del Sroufe. As I’ve said before, this is not about deprivation. Recipes include Tuscan White Bean Burgers, Sweet Potato Lasagna, Quinoa and Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie, and Chocolate Raspberry Parfaits.

 

I found that some of advice in The Forks Over Knives Plan is practically and greatly needed. I’ve seen books about dietary changes that don’t address the psychological and lifestyle issues that people face, such as handling cravings or dealing with friends and family members who might not be on the same journey. The authors also offer tips on how to make the mental switch from “diet” to “lifestyle”, how to answer annoying questions like “where do you get your protein”, and what to do when eating out.

 

SpaghettiThe Forks Over Knives Plan is an excellent resource for those who are looking for help transitioning to a plant-based diet, and it’s also great for those who may already be vegan but would like to eat a little more healthfully.

 

You’re in luck because I have a copy of The Forks Over Knives Plan for one lucky reader. Follow the instructions below to enter. US residents only, please. Contest ends at midnight eastern time on Sunday, October 5th. Good luck!

 

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OATrageous Oatmeals Recipe and Giveaway

oatmeal-cover

I’m super excited to be hosting Kathy Hester’s OATrageous Oatmeals blog tour today! Not only was I a recipe tester for OATrageous Oatmeals, Kathy also included one of my recipes in the book! Kathy’s here with a recipe for Veggie Oat Taco Mince, and she also has a chance for you to win a copy of the book at the end of the post.

 

I will admit that I used to really dislike oatmeal. I found it to be mushy and paste-like, and I couldn’t understand why anyone would purposely consume it. I’m not sure when or why I started forcing myself to eat it. It may have been because I was away from home and the only vegan breakfast food I could find was the oatmeal cup at Starbucks, or maybe it was when I first received my slow cooker and I was trying out different breakfast dishes. I found that adding fruit and nuts in with oats in the morning made it much more palatable. From there I began experimenting, and since then I have become a fan of oatmeal.

 

Kathy’s book OATrageous Oatmeals will make an oatmeal fan out of  any just about anyone. If only I had had this book years ago! As you would expect, it does contain quite a lot of breakfast dishes, such as Lemon Raspberry “Cheesecake” Oatmeal, Caramel Delight Oatmeal, and  Peanut Butter Pie Oatmeal, but there are also recipes for smoothies, soups, stews, dinner dishes, and desserts. Oats aren’t usually thought of as a savory food, but Kathy has gotten really creative her recipes, including dishes such as Cauliflower Oat Pizza Crust, Cajun Stuffed Bell Peppers, and Steel-Cut Oat Bean Chili. Leaving no oat unturned, Kathy  has included a few recipes for oatmeal pet treats, and there are also a couple of recipes for skin care products.

 

Without further ado, here’s Kathy with a recipe from the book!

 

taco-filling

Veggie Oat Taco Mince

by Kathy Hester from OATrageous Oatmeals

 

gluten-free, soy-free, oil-free option*

 

Steel-cut oats mimic the mouthfeel of vegan crumbles while being completely free of processed ingredients. They also add heartiness to the veggie and bean mixture. This is the perfect way to sneak in some veggies for the picky eaters in your house. My picky eater, Cheryl, loves this!

 

Makes enough for 8 tacos

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (237 ml) water
  • 1/4 cup (20 g) steel-cut oats
  • 1/4 cup (27.5 g) minced carrots
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil (*or use water to make no oil added)
  • 1/2 small onion, minced (about 1/4 cup [50 g])
  • 1/4 cup (37 g) minced green pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 (14 oz [500 ml]) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon (15 g) chopped green chilies
  • 1 cup (67 g) minced kale (or other green)
  • juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 2 tablespoons (2g) to 1/4 cup (4 g)
  • cilantro, to taste
  • salt, to taste

 

Directions: 

  1. In a saucepan, bring the water, oats and carrots to a boil, then turn the heat to low. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until the steel-cut oats are cooked through but still chewy. While the oats are cooking, heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until translucent, then add the green pepper, garlic and spices and cook for another 2 minutes.
  2. Once the oat mixture is cooked, add it to the saute pan and mix the oats in with the veggies. You want to keep cooking until the oats dry out some and begin to separate. Keep cooking until it starts to look like crumbles.
  3. Mix in the kidney beans, green chilies and kale. Cook until the kidney beans are thoroughly heated. Right before serving, add the lime juice, cilantro and salt. Serve in hard or soft taco shells, or in burritos. They are also amazing on top of nachos.

 

Per 1/8 recipe: Calories 87.8, protein 4.0 g, total fat 2.2 g, carbohydrates 14.6 g, sodium 108.8 mg, fiber 4.3 g

 

Feel free to leave out the beans and replace the chili powder and cumin with basil and thyme. You can also leave out the green chilies and green pepper and replace with either sliced mushrooms or sun-dried tomatoes.

 

by Kathy Hester From OATrageous Oatmeals by Kathy Hester printed with permission of Page Street Publishing (I encourage you to use your affiliate link)

 

I have a copy of OATrageous Oatmeals for one lucky winner. Follow the instructions below to enter. US and Canadian residents only, please. Contest ends at midnight eastern time on October 1st. Good luck!

 

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Going Vegan Recipe and Giveaway

Going Vegan

Today I’m happy to have a recipe from Going Vegan by Joni Marie Newman and Gerri Lynn Adams to share with you, and I also have a chance for you to win a copy of the book!

 

As you have probably already figured out by the title, Going Vegan is a guidebook for transitioning to a vegan diet. Along with Joni Marie Newman, the book was co-authored by Gerri Lynn Adams, who has a B.S. in Food Science with an emphasis on nutrition, so the book explains not only how to go vegan, but how to do it an health healthful way. It starts out with both Joni and Gerri telling us why and how they went vegan. I always love hearing people’s “vegan stories”, and Joni and Gerri both have good ones. From there, the book delves into the reasons to go vegan, with a chapter dedicated to each: health, the environment, your wallet (because contrary to popular belief, eating vegan is not expensive), and for the animals. As you would expect from a book called Going Vegan, there’s tons of information on stocking your kitchen, from how to check for hidden animal ingredients in packaged foods to what items you should keep on hand in your pantry. And of course, there are tons of delicious recipes for easy-to-make dishes that are sure to please everyone at your dinner table.

 

Speaking of recipes, I’m sharing the recipe for Amaretto Cupcakes from Going Vegan today. Amaretto is one of my favorite things, next to chocolate, so I just couldn’t say no to these little treats!

 

Amaretto CupcakesAmaretto Cupcakes

Yield: 12 cupcakes

There are hundreds upon hundreds of kid-friendly cupcake recipes out there. This is not one of them. This sophisticated cupcake is made for grown-ups! The cupcake itself has no added fat, so if you are watching your fat, you can make these without frosting, or try chocolate ganache. For a nice decorative touch, sprinkle the tops with sliced or slivered almonds.

 

Ingredients

For cupcakes:

  • 1 cup (235 ml) almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) amaretto liqueur, such as DiSaronno (See “Veggie Bite” below.)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) evaporated cane juice or vegan granulated sugar
  • 2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (40 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

For Fluffy Almond Vanilla Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup (112 g) nondairy butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 to 5 cups (240 to 600 g) powdered sugar, as desired
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) amaretto liqueur, such as DiSaronno (See “Veggie Bite” below)

 

Preparation

  1. To make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C, or gas mark 4). Line a standard muffin tin with cupcake papers. In a small bowl, mix almond milk and vinegar. (It will curdle and become like buttermilk.) Stir in DiSaronno or amaretto, vanilla, and evaporated cane juice or granulated sugar.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cardamom. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir to combine. (Take care not to over mix.) Fill cupcake papers three-quarters full. Bake on center rack 18 to 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven, allow to cool enough to transfer to a cooling rack, and cool completely. (This step is important to prevent the bottoms of your cupcakes from getting soggy.) Allow to cool completely before frosting.
  3. To make the frosting: In a mixing bowl, place butter and vanilla and beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Add powdered sugar, 1 cup (120 g) at a time until desired consistency is reached. (For a thinner icing use 2 to 3 cups [240 to 360 g]; for a fluffy, pipeable frosting use 4 to 5 cups [480 to 600 g].) Add liqueur 1 tablespoon (15 ml) at a time as needed to taste and for desired consistency

 

 

Veggie Bite

The big square knob on top is a sure sign that this is a classic liqueur worthy of space in any well-stocked bar. However any amaretto will certainly do the trick. Joni has also offered substitutions for people who choose not to imbibe.

 

Teetotalers rejoice! For the amaretto in the cupcakes and frosting, substitute 1 tablespoon (15 ml) almond extract mixed with 7 tablespoons (105 ml) water or additional almond milk. You can feel free to sub up to half of the flour with whole wheat pastry flour.

 

 

Read my full review of Going Vegan on ChicVegan.com, and also check out my interview with Joni Marie Newman.

 

 

Follow the instructions below for a chance to win a copy of Going Vegan. Contest ends at midnight eastern time on Wednesday, September 24th, 2014. Good luck!

 

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Nava Atlas Guest Post, Recipe and Giveaway

Plant power

I’m super excited to be hosting Nava Atlas on her Plant Power blog tour today. Nava’s cookbooks were among the first I bought when I went vegan, and because of them, I found going vegan to be relatively easy. I wish I had a copy of Nava’s new book Plant Power back when I made the transition to vegan (or even vegetarian) eating, as it’s packed with tons of tips on how to transition to plant-based eating, and it’s full of delicious, yet simple recipes. Plant Power focuses on the basics, from setting up a plant-powered pantry and fridge to choosing the best fresh foods for each season and streamlining daily meal preparation. Whether it’s a stir-fry using leftover veggies in the crisper, a fajita dinner to please different taste buds, yummy hummus wraps, or a pot of chili to savor on a cold winter evening, Plant Power takes the challenge out of meal-planning and makes it fun. Each of the fresh and flavor-packed recipes is easy to make and customizable, with tips on variations from turning up the heat and mixing up ingredients, to kid-friendly, gluten-free, and seasonal options.

 

Nava’s here today with a guest post, a recipe from Plant Power, and a chance to win a copy of her book. Without further ado, here’s Nava…

 

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Favorite Cookware and Tools for the Plant-Based Kitchen

The plant-powered kitchen need not be magazine-gorgeous and outfitted with the latest gadgets and appliances. These things would be nice, of course, but they’re not required to create delicious meals. Still, an assortment of basic tools can make life in the kitchen easier and, in some cases, more enjoyable. Just as with pantry items, you don’t have to run out and buy all these items at once—or at all. These are tools I enjoy having in my kitchen and that you might, too, as as you begin to enjoy more plant-based meals. Everyone has their favorite kitchen helpers; for me, these first four items are must-haves:

Food processor: A food processor’s multiple uses—chopping, grating, and pureeing— make it your best friend among kitchen tools. If you get one of the name brands and take care of it, it may outlive you! I’ve had the same Cuisinart food processor for at least fifteen years, and it shows little sign of slowing down.

Wire whisk or coated wire whisk: This inexpensive tool helps make sauces, dressings, and gravies, and it helps when cooking fine grains (such as polenta) to lump-free textures. For cake and pancake batters that come out smooth without overbeating, a whisk is a must.

Kitchen shears: Shears, or kitchen scissors, have endless uses in the kitchen—cutting long Asian noodles, thinly slicing scallions and basil leaves, opening packages, even cutting pizza into wedges if you don’t have a pizza wheel.

Stir-fry pan: This type of wok-shaped pan will serve you well if you enjoy making stir- fries. It’s easier to deal with, in many ways, than a traditional wok—from cleaning to storage. If you make plenty of dishes involving quick-cooked veggies, you’ll get a lot of use from a good stir-fry pan. The one made by Circulon, with a hard-anodized surface, has served me well. Here are a few more items that are quite useful; while they’re not absolute necessities, having any of them adds to the ease and enjoyment of your life in the kitchen!

Immersion blender: If you have no room for a full-fledged blender, or don’t want to spring for one, an immersion blender can do a lot of the same tricks. My favorite way to use it is for pureeing soups in the same pot in which they cook. With it, there’s no need to transfer hot ingredients in and out of a food processor or blender. Easy to use, even easier to clean, and costing a fraction of what a food processor or blender costs, immersion blenders like this one by Cuisinartare also good for making smoothies and velvety sauces.

Pizza pan or pizza stone: A pizza pan is nothing more than a large round pan designed for baking pizzas. And a pizza stone is just that—a smooth round stone used for the same purpose. A stone ensures crisper crusts and is more tolerant of sharp pizza wheels. With veggie-driven pizzas in regular rotation in our home, both these tools have seen much use. If you like to make pizza, they won’t break the bank.

Salad spinner: A salad spinner isn’t an absolute must have. Even as a huge fan of salads of all kinds, I did without one for a long time. But once I finally got one and started using it, I was sold! I regret all those paper towels I wasted, blotting delicate leaves for salads and wraps and pressing liquid from kale before massaging it or making kale chips. Asalad spinner works kind of like the spin cycle in your washing machine, except that it needs no electricity.

Nut chopper or grinder: I enjoy my nut chopper, which grinds a few nuts at a time into a container, making the process easy and neat. While you can definitely live without it, nut enthusiasts will enjoy this item. It’s handy for turning nuts into a tasty topping for noodle dishes, grains, salads, and cereals.

Tofu press: Despite the fact I’ve been using and enjoying tofu for ages, this is the most recent addition to my roster of favorite kitchen tools. Tofu presses are simple devices using springs or tightening bolts to extract water from tofu efficiently, without any further weights and using no paper towels whatsoever! I enjoy both theEZ Tofu Press and the TofuXpress, which work a bit differently from each other but are both quite handy.

Produce keepers: Especially in the summertime, when garden are bursting with greens and farm market season is in full swing, produce keepers (such as the ones pictured in the first photo above) really do extend the life of produce. Of course, it’s ideal to use produce as soon as possible after you harvest or purchase it, but these kinds of containers extend freshness when need be.

 

Black-Bean-Tostadas-horizontal

Black Bean Tostadas

A tostada is a crisp tortilla piled generously with any variety of toppings, often including beans, crisp lettuce, and salsa. Good accompaniments include: baked potatoes or sweet potatoes; or fresh corn on the cob. Add a salad and/or a simple steamed veggies, you’ve got an easy weeknight meal or fun quick fare to serve company.

 

Serves: 4 (2 tostadas per serving)

 Ingredients:

  • 8 good-quality corn tortillas
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil or 3 tablespoons vegetable broth or water
  • 1 medium onion or two shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Two 15-to 16-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed,
or 3 to 3 1/2 cups cooked black beans
  • Juice of 1/2 lime or lemon, or more, to taste
  • 1 to 2 small hot green chili peppers, seeded and sliced, optional
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin

Garnishes:

  • Shredded lettuce, baby greens, or baby spinach
  • Plenty of mild, medium, or hot chunky salsa, such as chipotle, peach or mango
  • Store-bought or homemade Vegan Sour Cream or Cashew Cream

Directions:

To toast the torillas in the oven: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spread the tortillas on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, or until crisp and dry and just starting to be touched with golden brown spots. Remove them from the oven and place on a serving platter.

To toast the tortillas on a stovetop: Heat a large skillet. Toast the tortillas over medium heat (two or three at a time, depending on the size of the skillet) for about 5 minutes or so on each side, until crisp and touched with golden brown spots. Don’t be afraid to let them get nice and crisp—that’s better than ending up with a soggy tostada.

Heat the oil, broth, or water in medium skillet. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until golden, about 5 minutes.

Add the remaining ingredients (aside from the garnishes, of course) along with 1/4 cup water and bring to a simmer. Using a potato masher, mash some of the beans so that the liquid becomes thick and saucy.

Place the shredded lettuce, sour cream, and salsa in separate serving bowls and let everyone assemble their tostadas as follows: A layer of shredded lettuce; the black bean mixture; salsa; and sour cream. Pick up the tostadas and eat out of hand (with plenty of napkins!).

 

Recipe and excerpt from Plant Power: Transform Your Kitchen, Plate, and Life with More Than 150 Fresh and Flavorful Vegan Recipes by Nava Atlas. ©2014, published by HarperOne, reprinted by permission. Photos by Hannah Kaminsky. 

 

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Vegan Tacos Guest Post, Recipe and Giveaway

Vegan Tacos CoverI’m thrilled to be hosting Chef Jason Wyrick on his Vegan Tacos blog tour today. Jason is her with tips on pairing drinks with tacos, a recipe for margaritas from his new book, and a chance for you to win a copy of Vegan Tacos.

 

If you don’t have a copy of Vegan Tacos yet, run, don’t walk, to the nearest bookstore and buy one, because this is one cookbook you’re going to want in your collection. Chef Jason Wyrick says this book isn’t just about tacos, “it’s about bringing the authentic Mexican taco experience into the vegan world.” He did tons of research, improved his Spanish skills, and even traveled to Mexico in order to write about and veganize traditional tacos. Some of the tasty tacos you’ll find within the pages of Vegan Tacos include Vampire Tacos (named after the way the tortilla curls up and resembles bat wings), Guacamole Tacos, Cactus Tacos, and Tacos Veracruz. There are fusion tacos, dessert tacos, and even breakfast tacos. You’ll also find recipes for everything that goes with tacos, from fresh tortillas and drinks to hot sauces and salsas. It’s not all just recipes though, Jason also delves into taco  history and anthropology, and taco culture, and he also talks about his family’s personal experience with Mexican cuisine.

 

Without further ado, here’s Jason…

Tacos, Tequila and Mezcal

Tacos, Tequila, and Mezcal: How to Pair Your Tacos with the Right Drink

While there isn’t really a wrong drink to serve with tacos, the right drink can make the experience truly memorable. Coffee, tea, handcrafted sodas, beer, tequila, mezcal. Where to start? When it comes to choosing the right drink to serve with your delicious taco creations, a few simple guidelines can point you in the right direction.

 

1. Choose Similar Flavor Elements, Not Combative Elements

I think a good drink should serve as a palate cleanser between bites, but it should absolutely never serve as a palate fighter. More important than choosing a drink that contains elements found in your food (high notes, citrus notes, caramelization, etc.) is choosing one that does not actively fight those notes. For example, a crisp vanilla soda served with some spicy tacos tempura dressed with lemon or lime sounds pretty good. A crisp vanilla soda served with tacos topped with pickled onions sounds, let’s just say, not so good. That’s why this rule is the most important of all.

 

2. Dark Roasted vs. Smoky vs. Crisp Beers

While there are seven different major flavor-profiles for beer, I typically parse them down into these three categories when deciding what to serve with my tacos. Here’s a simple set of rules. If a taco has heavy, deep flavors, like caramelization, roasted garlic, grill char, etc., then go with a heavier flavored beer like a dark roasted beer or a smoky beer. If the tacos have bright, clean flavors that you get from ingredients like lots of lime, pickled onions, or fresh herbs, pair them with a clean crisp beer. This way, the flavors of the beer complement the flavor of your food instead of fighting with it.

 

My Recommendations: Stone Smoked Porter and North Coast Brewing Brother Thelonious Ale for the heavier flavored tacos. For the brighter tacos, Dogfish Head 90-minute IPA is perfect.

 

3. Two Types of Heat Call for Two Types of Drinks

I find there are two types of heat. There’s that intense heat that hits you right up front. It makes your tongue jump and if you’re a spice addict like I am, you can’t wait to take another bite. Think chiles de arbol, fresh serranos, and habaneros. Then there is the type of heat I call a back-end heat. It takes a few seconds to build, but when it does, it feels like it suffuses your entire mouth. Think chipotles, roasted guajillo chiles, and fire-roasted chiles.

 

For the up-front heat, I prefer crisp light beers and wines. Like the intense up-front heat, they tend to show their flavor profiles right away. For the back-end heat, I prefer full-bodied beers and wines. These drinks tend to take a few seconds to assimilate, just like tacos with a back-end heat. It’s all about matching elements.

 

My Recommendations: For the up-front heat, I like Dos Equis, Tripel Karmeliet, or a Gewurtztraminer or a Sauvignon Blanc. For the back-end heat tacos, I like Bohemia Obscura, Gulden Draak, or even a strong Riesling. The wines are all white because they tend to play nicer with all the elements of a taco.

 

4. Tequila or Mezcal?

Tequila typically has a smoother taste than mezcal, while mezcal is a little more complex and smoky. When a taco has grilled, smoky, or caramelized flavors, I prefer the smoky complexity of mezcal or tequila anejo. Tequila anejo has been aged one to three years, allowing it to develop fairly complex flavors. When a taco has citrus flavors, fresh herbal flavors, or lighter veggie flavors, like lightly cooked zucchini, I prefer tequila blanco or tequila reposado. Tequila blanco has only been aged for about a month and is pretty straightforward and clean in taste and reposado is right between a blanco and an anejo. The cleaner flavors of these tequilas seem to pair well with fresher flavors in tacos.

 

Note: Don’t waste your money on expensive tequila or mezcal if you are serving those with your tacos. Your tacos will overwhelm some of the nuance of those drinks. Either serve those higher end drinks before or after taco time so you can fully appreciate them. During taco time, I typically go for a mid-range tequila or mezcal. Keep in mind that because mezcal is not as popular as tequila, it’s produced in small specialty batches, so it’s a bit pricier. Finally, make sure your bottle does not say “gusano de maguey.” That means it has a worm.

 

My Recommendations: The Casa del Sol and Casa Noble lines of tequila are reasonably priced, outstanding tequilas. For Mezcal, I’ve been enjoying Los Amantes and Del Maguey.

 

5. Playing Nice with Capsaicin Means Stronger Drinks!

Capsaicin is the molecule in chiles that generates heat. The more capsaicin, the hotter the taste. Capsaicin, however, is not water soluble. That means if you drink your tacos with water, tea, coffee, or soda, they are going to taste spicier because the water will wash the capsaicin molecules all around your mouth. Because soda is fizzy, it will pop that capsaicin around even more! If you want your food to taste spicier, these drinks are perfectly fine.

 

Capsaicin is, however, alcohol soluble. That means the more alcoholic your drink is, the more the heat will be toned down, and not just because you consumed copious amounts of it. The alcohol will dissolve the capsaicin and tone down your food. To notice an effect, though, you’ll need a drink with a strong alcohol content. Beer does not usually do the trick. Plus, it’s fizzy and mostly water.

 

One exception to this is agua frescas. Agua frescas are cold, sweet, smooth drinks. Usually, they are based on pureed fruits or berries. Because they are cold, they are refreshing and because they are sweet, they balance the sensation of heat.

 

My Recommendations: Consider a sipping drink like tequila blanco or even something strong like whiskey. My real preference, though, is to keep a pineapple or mango agua fresca on hand.

 

 

 

Grilled Lime Margarita

Grilled Lime Margarita with Mesquite Smoked Salt

Margaritas are great when they are made with fresh lime and good alcohol. It’s a classic drink that’s now part of the Mexican experience. I wanted to change things up a bit and make something a little darker, a little more mysterious and alluring. That’s what the mezcal and the smoke are to me. It permeates the entire drink, from the char of the grilled limes to the smoky mezcal to the shot of smoked salt on the rim of the glass. You can, of course, forgo grilling the limes and just use regular salt and good tequila blanco to make the classic margarita, but I hope you find the smoky version I created here to a sultry companion to your tacos.

 

Makes 4 Drinks

 

Ingredients:

  • 8 large limes, cut in half diagonally (see note)
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 4 shots mezcal or tequila reposado or añejo
  • 
6 tablespoons (2 shots) Cointreau or other good quality orange liqueur
  • Mesquite smoked salt
  • Sprinkle coarse sugar
  • Option: Make it spicy by placing a dried chipotle meco at the bottom of each glass

Note:

I cut limes in half diagonally because it exposes more surface area of the lime to be grilled and it also makes them easier to juice.

Preparation:

Grill the limes until they develop blackened char lines. This will take about 5 minutes. Ideally, you should do this over a wood fire, but you can still do it with a gas grill. Flip the limes over and grill the round sides of the lime halves. This will further cook the lime and mellow out the flavor. Juice the limes into a pitcher or a bowl. Keep the lime rinds Stir the agave into the lime juice until they are thoroughly combined. Mix in the shots of mezcal and Cointreau. Take the inside of the juiced lime rinds and rim 4 margarita glasses. Sprinkle mesquite smoked salt and just a touch of sugar around the rim of the glasses. Add the margarita mix to the glasses and serve. This should be served at room temperature and not over ice, which does not play well with the smoky components.

 

From Vegan Tacos by Jason Wyrick. ©2014 Jason Wyrick. Used by permission from Vegan Heritage Press.
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Kathy Hester’s OATrageous OXO Giveaway

 

oxo-giveaway-graphic-800pxI’m quite excited to be one of the hosts of Kathy Hester’s giant OATrageous OXO giveaway this week! To celebrate the upcoming release of her new cookbook OATrageous Oatmeals, Kathy has partnered with OXO for an epic giveaway of OXO goodies. One lucky winner will get a box of OXO kitchen gadgets and a copy of Kathy’s book. Just follow the instructions at the end of the post to enter. 

 

oatmeal-coverNot only was I a recipe tester for OATrageous Oatmeals, Kathy also included one of my recipes in the book! OATrageous Oatmeals will change the way you look at oatmeal, because Kathy Hester, shares recipes for dishes like Italian Veggie and Oat Sausage, Veggie Oat Taco and Oat Pizza Crust Topped with vegan sausage crumbles made from Steel-cut oats. She also includes new takes on traditional favorites like Banana Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes and Strawberries and Cream Overnight Refrigerator Oats. Every recipe I tried while testing was an absolute winner!

 

finalOATragouscollageIn addition to the OXO giveaway, Kathy has a special offer for those who preorder OATrageous Oatmeals. Pre­order the book for $15.06 and you have the chance to get over $25’s worth of goodies. Just be one of the first 100 people to email your OATrageous purchase receipt to oatrageousoatmeals@gmail.com with your full name, mailing address and phone number (for delivery purposes only). Kathy has some other surprises for everyone who pre­orders including an OATragous newsletter with not-­in-­the-­book oat recipes and special coupons.

 

Kathy has also shared a recipe from OATrageous Oatmeals with us today, as a little sneak peek of what’s inside the book.

 

sausage-crumblesSteel-Cut Oat Sausage Crumbles

makes about 2 to 3 cups

gluten-free, soy-free, oil-free

This is one of my favorite staples and I keep some in the freezer all the time for last minute pizzas.  The spices give it a traditional Italian sausage flavor. The oats give it a chewy texture and the spices even turn the oats the color of sausage. It’s at home on a pizza or sprinkled over biscuits and gravy.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (237ml) water
  • 1/2 cup (40g) steel-cut oats
  • 2 teaspoon rubbed sage
  • 2 teaspoon marjoram
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt, or more, to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
  • 1/4 to 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground rosemary or 1/2 teaspoon regular

 

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a saucepan add the water and oats, bring to a boil then turn the heat to low and cook for 10 minutes covered. Mix all the other ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
  3. Cook uncovered for 5 minutes while stirring to help get some of the moisture out. Remove from heat and add in the spice mixture and mix well.
  4. Spoon the oat mixture onto the parchment paper and try to distribute it as close to evenly as possible. Then tear a second piece of parchment paper and put on top an flatten the mixture as much as possible.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes, then pull out and cut lines into the sausage with a spatula. You aren’t trying to move it, just to make more places for steam to escape.
  6. Bake for 5 more minutes. This time scrape and break up the sausage into crumbles with the spatula.
  7. Bake 5 more minutes and it should be easy to crumble. You can sprinkle on pizza and you can even freeze the leftovers for another time!

 

From OATrageous Oatmeals by Kathy Hester printed with permission of Page Street Publishing

 

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