Wednesday, January 1, 2014

(Almost) One-Hour Calzones!

Calzones Stuffed with Vegan Ricotta, Olives, Artichokes and Spinach

So, over the holidays, lounging on my parents couch, I indulged in one of my favorite guilty pleasures: FoodTV and The Cooking Channel. I love it. I love watching people cook. And while I was home, I watched an episode of the Pioneer Woman in which she made calzones. I've been thinking about them ever since. And tonight, after roughly 5 cups of black tea and a day of cleaning and organizing our tiny apartment one more time, I was antsy and needed to cook. And here we are.

To make this recipe super simple, I used my favorite one hour pretzel recipe from Averie cooks (they are AMAZING, easy, and insanely addictive) - Soft Buttery One Hour Pretzels. Simpley make the dough, then put the filling together while it rises for half an hour. Cut the dough into 4 portions for large calzones, or 8 portions for smaller ones. Assembling the calzones takes roughly 15 minutes, they bake for about 10-15 minutes - BAM! Dinner in just about an hour!

Now, as with a lot of my recipes, this one is based largely on the ingredients I already had in my kitchen. Feel free to spice it up - add some crushed red pepper flakes, diced Tofurky Italian sausage (which I actually had but forgot to add :P), sauteed onions and peppers, whatever you like. Enjoy!

Calzones Stuffed with Vegan Ricotta, Olives, Artichokes and Spinach


One recipe Soft Buttery One Hour Pretzel dough (prepared according to blog directions).

Tofu Ricotta Filling

  • 1 lbs extra firm tofu
  • 1 tsp each dried thyme, oregano and basil (or 1 TBS Italian seasoning)
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1-14oz can artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained and roughly chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup sliced black olives, drained and rinsed (or one 2.25oz can)
  • 1/2 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed (you can easily do this in the microwave)
  • salt and pepper to taste

1 tsp olive oil

Marinara for dipping

Prepare the dough. While the dough is rising, put the filling together.

Drain the tofu, and gently squeeze out as much liquid as possible. In a medium sized mixing bowl, crumble the tofu with your (very clean) hands until no large chunks remain. Add remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly. Taste for seasoning. Set aside, until dough has risen for 30 minutes.

Pre-heat oven to 475 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper (if you have a pizza stone, that's even better!).

Divide your dough into fourths (or eights if you want smaller calzones). On a clean cutting board or counter, lightly sprinkle a layer of flour. Roll dough into a 10-12 inch circle. Spread 1/4 of the filling on one side of the circle, leaving about 3/4"-1" of dough at the edge.

(Ok, here I left a bit more than 1" of dough - but ended up scooching the filling forward a bit)

 Fold the dough over the filling, and either press together with a fork, or fold the edges under. You just want to make sure that the dough is pressed together so that the filling doesn't spill out.

Gently place your calzone onto the baking sheet. Assemble the rest of the calzones. Using a pastry brush, or your fingers, brush the tops of the calzones with olive oil. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the top crust is golden.

Allow to cool for several minutes, then gently transfer to a cooling wrack. Serve calzones with a side of warm marinara sauce, and a nice green salad. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Easy Vegan Fudge!!!!!!

'Tis the season for sweets! For baking, and sharing, and consuming waaaaay too much sugar. This is one of the standby recipes I turn to when I want to bring a holiday hostess gift, a treat for a gathering, or just to have on hand in case someone stops by. It also holds up quite well when mailed, so feel free to spread the love. It's easy, and delicious! The perfect combination of smooth and sweet chocolatey decadence.

One note. The double boiler is important (you can use two saucepans, one smaller than the other)! If you don't use one, you risk ending up with something more like a brick than a supple pan of fudge - I've done it, and it is very sad. While this fudge is amazing on it's own, I like the juxtaposition of textures added by nuts (roasted or raw), toasted coconut, or even chopped dried fruit. You can fold them into the fudge right before you pour it into the pan, but I like to sprinkle them right on top. I think it makes for a much more impressive looking final product.


Easy Vegan Fudge


  • 1 cup vegan margarine
  • 7 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted (you may need more to reach your desired consistency)
  • 1 cup sifted cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 TBS - ¼ cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts or unsweetened coconut flakes (optional, but delicious!)


Lightly grease an 8x8 square baking dish using a little of the margarine, or non-stick spray. Place the margarine in a heat proof bowl or the upper part of a double boiler (I use a small pot in a large pot of water).

 Place the bowl or pan over simmering water until melted.

 Add the vanilla, cocoa powder, and almond milk, and stir over the simmering water until smooth (or relatively so). Begin adding the powdered sugar, about ¾ cup at a time, mixing until smooth - you want a thick shiny mixture. This part may take a few minutes, but you really want as few lumps as possible.

 Pour the mixture quickly into the prepared pan, and sprinkle with desired additions. 

I chose to use roughly chopped toasted almonds this time :)

Gently press nuts or shredded coconut into the fudge. 

Let sit at room temperature until thoroughly cooled, and cut into squares. Makes about 2 dozen squares.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Sweet Fall, Sweet Potatoes

Maple Cinnamon Scalloped Sweet Potatoes 

with Nutmeg and Fresh Ginger

So not long ago, I had a sudden urge to try my hand at healthy vegan scalloped potatoes. I traded out heavy cream and cheese for cashew cream and nutritional yeast, and the results surpassed my wildest dreams. Creamy, comforting and delicious. At the time, I thought to myself, "I wonder how this would work with sweet potatoes?" - The answer, I have discovered, is very well indeed. I swapped the savory roasted garlic and nutritional yeast for cinnamon, maple syrup, fresh ginger and nutmeg, and ended up with a lovely dish at once sweet and subtle, with the added spices enhancing but in no way covering the beautiful natural sweetness of the sweet potato itself. It's not the prettiest dish in the world, but you probably won't have much time to look at it before it's disappeared into hungry mouths. However, if you like, you could sprinkle some chopped pecans on top in the last five minutes or so of cooking for a nice bit of crunch, and a more festive look. That actually sounds like a really good idea...

I plan on making this for my Thanksgiving table in lieu of my normal mashed sweet potatoes. Some of my other favorite Thanksgiving recipes? This wonderful Stuffed Seitan Roast recipe from, VeganDad's Pull Apart Pumpkin Rolls with some of my compound vegan "honey butter", Mashed Caulipots, and The Sweet Life's Almost Raw Pumpkin Cheesecake, just to name a few. Holidays are wonderful, joyous times when we use food as a way to bring our families together and as a medium with which to share our love. And what better way to show that love than by making that meal a delicious, healthy and cruelty free one? One, I might add, that even my omnivore father happily devours each year.

Maple Cinnamon Scalloped Sweet Potatoes

Gluten Free

Serves 6

  • 2 lbs sweet potatoes, about 2 large ones, peeled and sliced into roughly 1/8" rounds
  • 1 recipe cashew cream
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 TBS pure maple syrup (the real stuff!)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, roughly chopped (about 1/2" off the knob)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cornstarch (Non-GMO!)
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly oil the bottom of an 8x8 dish, or baking vessel of your choice.

In a blender, combine all ingredients, except of course for the sweet potatoes. Blend until everything is incorporated and you've thoroughly liquified your chopped ginger.

Pour about 3 TBS of your cream sauce into the bottom of your pan, and tip it about so that the cream coats the bottom.

Now, begin your layering. Anyway you like, so long as the potatoes end up even. After each layer of potatoes I pour about 1/4 of the remaining cream sauce over them before repeating the next layer (if this doesn't work for you, just reach in there and mix the potatoes with your hands to coat them in the cream sauce - just make sure you spread them back out evenly once you're done).

 When you run out of potatoes, top with the remaining cream sauce, cover with tin foil and bake for about 25 minutes. Remove the foil, and bake uncovered for another 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are super soft and the cream sauce is bubbly.

Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving. I served these with some garlic roasted asparagus and my Almond Crusted Tofu Cutlets.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Pumpkin Polenta!

Rachael Ray's Easy Pumpkin Polenta Recipe - Veganized! 

This is one of my favorite recipes. It's easy, it's comforting, and it's delicious. I can throw it together in less than half an hour, and it has pumpkin in it! What more could you ask for?

I'm feeling a bit under the weather at the moment, and haven't the energy to blog a whole new recipe, so I thought I'd just share an old favorite with you.

This is a recipe by Racheal Ray that I've veganized (it's already vegetarian) and adapted to suit my own tastes. While the woman does love her sausage and cheese, quite a few of her recipes are pretty darn easy to veganize.

You can find the original recipe at this link.

Easy Pumpkin Polenta with Collards and Kidney Beans
adapted from Rachael Ray's original recipe - serves 4


  • 1 tsp olive oil or grapeseed oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 -16oz package frozen collard greens (or spinach, kale, etc)
  • 1- 15oz can kidney beans (be sure to read the label to make sure there's no high fructose corn syrup)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 vegan bullion cube
  • 1 cup quick-cooking polenta (or grits)
  • 1- 14oz can pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tbs vegan butter (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pepper to taste

In a large saucepan, mix the water and bullion cube, and pumpkin puree, and bring to a boil over medium high heat.

Meanwhile.... In a saute pan heat oil over medium high heat, and saute the onions until they begin to caramelize - about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic, greens, beans, salt and pepper. Turn the heat down to low, cover and continue cooking until everything is heated through.

Once your pumpkin mixture has come to a boil, add the polenta and begin stirring! This part goes quite fast, and there's great potential for pumpkin splatters if you don't stir fast enough, so keep the polenta moving. Continue stirring for about 3-5 minutes, until all of the moisture has been absorbed and the polenta is thick and creamy. Turn the heat off, add the vegan butter (if desired), dried thyme, salt and pepper.

Spoon polenta into bowls and top with a generous serving of greens and beans.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Easy Vegan Compound Butter

Easy Vegan Compound Butter: Roasted Garlic Edition

Let me start out by saying that this is not something that we eat often in our house. We don't eat a lot of processed fats at all really, reserving them for special occasions, holidays or when absolutely necessary. However when we're having company (as we are this evening), I like to do a little something extra. Especially when making a first impression on a non-vegan whom I may not want to bombard with sprouted lentils and kale chips upon the first encounter. Plus, it's fun. And it reminds me of when I was 13 and absolutely knew that I wanted to be a chef. My ever indulgent parents got me the Culinary Institute of America's "The Professional Chef" for my birthday, and I studied it religiously. That was also when I first tried my hand at compound butters (right before I went vegan), and if a 13 year old can do it, you can to! :)

This is a ridiculously easy recipe that definitely yields impress-your-company results. Compound butter, like most amazing culinary things, comes from the French, and is basically butter with stuff in it. Really that's all there is to it. It's also super easy to veganize, because there are several really great vegan butter substitutes out there. Earth Balance, or Smart Balance Light Buttery Spread for instance (though you'll want to read your Smart Balance labels very carefully - some varieties are vegan while others are not, though the vegan ones are usually very clearly labeled "Vegan"). While a lot of recipes for traditional compound butters require added salt, in the vegan version I leave it out as most margarine's usually already contain it.

Compound butter's are great for gatherings, and can be quite impressive when swapped out for plain old vegan butter. Whether you spread this roasted garlic variant on bread before popping it in the oven for delicious garlic bread, put a dollop on a baked potato, and if you're making a sweet compound butter, serve it with waffles, pancakes, muffins etc. Or just put a little bowl of the delicious mixture in the center of the table near the bread/rolls and let your guests help themselves (awesome for Holidays). It's easy and it tastes amazing. If you need more, just adjust the amounts.

Tonight I went with a standard. Roasted Garlic. So good.

Roasted Garlic "Butter"

  • 8 cloves roasted garlic
  • 1/3 cup vegan butter, slightly softened (just leave it sitting on the counter for about 20 minutes)
In a small bowl mash the garlic cloves.

 Add the softened margarine and stir to combine. You can either wrap it up to make a stick of compound butter, or just put it in a small glass container, cover and place in the fridge.

If you want to form it into a stick, simply lay out a piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper, place your butter in the center, fold one side of the plastic wrap over, then just roll it.

 Set it in the fridge to allow it to firm back up. A few hours should do the trick.

The options are ENDLESS!!! 

Italian Herb "Butter"

  • 1 tsp each - fresh minced parsley, basil, thyme, and oregano
  • 1 small clove of garlic, very finely minced
  • 1/3 cup vegan butter 
Mix everything together. Roll, or place in a bowl and refrigerate to firm back up. Serve! 

Maple Cinnamon "Butter"

  • 2 TBS real maple syrup (not the high fructose corn syrup-artificial-color-laden stuff - the kind that actually comes from a tree). 
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup vegan butter 
Mix everything together. Roll, or place in a bowl and refrigerate to firm back up. Serve!

Vegan "Honey Butter"

  • 2 TBS agave necter
  • 1/3 cup vegan butter 
Mix everything together. Roll, or place in a bowl and refrigerate to firm back up. Serve! 

Roasted Garlic and Red Pepper "Butter"

  • 2 TBS diced roasted red bell peppers (homemade or the kind you can buy in a jar)
  • 6 cloves roasted garlic
  • 1/3 cup vegan butter 
Mix everything together. Roll, or place in a bowl and refrigerate to firm back up. Serve! 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Burger Night!

Smoky Quinoa Black Bean Burgers and Baked Sweet Potato Fries


Burgers!!! I've been promising Andrew black bean burgers for just about a month now, and oh how patiently he's waited. Until tonight. Tonight, burgers were my mission. And I think it's safe to say that success was had. And devoured...

These flavor packed little burgers really hit the spot. The combination of ketchup and liquid smoke within the burger itself created a mild, sweet BBQ flavor that really compliments the black beans. The exterior gets nice and crispy in the oven and the pureed beans remain soft inside while retaining a good bit of texture. And what better to go with black bean burgers than sweet potato fries?

The fries are crispy and sweet and so healthy! Baked and not fried, with only 1/2 tsp of oil.

This recipe makes quite a few burgers, so I baked all of these up, then froze the leftovers (place a piece of parchment paper in between burgers and store in a ziplock bag). I expect they'll last at least a month in the freezer. And the patties are gluten free to boot! Eat them the traditional way on a bun, in a pita, or on top of a bowl of greens for a nice protein addition to your salad.

Smoky Quinoa and Black Bean Burgers

Gluten Free 
Makes 10, 4" burgers

  • 2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 3 cups cooked black beans, divided (or 2 -15oz cans no salt added black beans, drained and rinsed)
  • 1/2 tsp grapeseed oil (or whatever you have on hand - olive, coconut, etc.)
  • 1 medium red onion, small dice
  • 1 celery stalk, small dice
  • 1 green bell pepper, small dice
  • 1 small zucchini, small dice
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 3/4 tsp Mrs. Dash Chipotle seasoning (or 1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder)
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 3 TBS ketchup
  • 1/2 tsp liquid smoke
  • 1 TBS cornstarch (Non-GMO!)
  • 1 TBS chia seeds, or ground flax seeds
  • 1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds or raw pumpkin seeds (optional)

Heat the oil in a medium sized saute pan over medium high heat. Add the onion, celery, bell pepper and zucchini, and saute for about 5 minutes, until the onions are becoming translucent. Add the garlic and salt, cover and continue to cook for another 3 minutes or so, until everything is tender. Allow to cool while you assemble the rest of the ingredients, or slice the sweet potatoes, or drink a cup of tea.

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees, and either lightly oil a sheet pan or use a piece of parchment paper. Set aside.

In a food processor, place 1/3 of your sauteed veggie mixture, 1 1/2 cups of black beans (or one can), spices, cornstarch, ketchup and liquid smoke. Process until smooth. Add the rest of the black beans, and pulse 2-3 times just to break up the beans. Taste for seasoning, and adjust if needed.

Pureed bean mixture

Preparing to mix everything together

In a large bowl, mix the remaining veggies, bean mixture, quinoa, chia seeds and sunflower seeds (if desired) until combined.

Patty mixture

I like to use a 1/2 cup measuring cup to portion out the patties, so that they're all the same size. Scoop up 1/2 cup of the black bean mixture and use your hands to form a patty, about 1/2" thick and 4" in diameter.


Roughly 4" little circles of delicious.

Place these on your sheet pan, I can usually fit about 6 on one pan. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove from the oven and very gently flip your burgers over. Bake for another 15-20 minutes or until firm and slightly crispy. Top with your favorite burger fixin's and enjoy.







Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Makes about 4 servings 

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, sliced into roughly 1/4" - 1/2" sticks (I like to leave the skin on, but you can peel them if you prefer).
  • 1/2 tsp canola oil (or you can spray your fries with non-stick cooking spray instead)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic (adjust spices to your personal preferences)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

On a baking sheet, spread out the sweet potato fries evenly. Drizzle with the oil, and toss them about a bit to coat. Sprinkle with salt and spices and toss them about again. Spread them out evenly on the pan.

Bake at for 20 minutes, stir, and bake for another 10 minutes. Serve hot from the oven!

Now, you should be able to fit both the fries and the black bean burgers in the oven at the same time - since they both bake at 400 for roughly the same amount of time. However, I have a tiny little oven that barely fits a single pan, so I baked my burgers first, then my fries, and kept my burgers warm wrapped in foil.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Falafel Fantasic!

Baked Falafel 

Gluten Free  

Falafel!!! Not only a fabulous word, but also an amazingly delicious little ball of chickpea goodness. This recipe is my hybrid version of two of my favorite recipes - Vegandad's Crispy Cajun Chickpea Patties and the wonderful falafel recipe from the vegan cookbook staple - Vegan With a Vengeance. I took elements from both of these recipes and mashed them together to create my version of the perfect falafel. It may not be traditional, but it is delicious.

Unlike a lot of falafel recipes, this one is not fried, but baked.  I like to bake these on parchment paper at a high heat in order to achieve a lovely crispy crust on the outside, while leaving the inside nice and creamy. I use VeganDad's technique of sauteing the celery and onion before pureeing it with the chickpeas, because I think this just creates such a nice depth of flavor and really makes the insides moist and tender. I don't use nearly as much fresh parsley as most falafel recipes usually do, simply because I'm not that fond of it. However, if you love it - please add more! I also add chickpea flour in place of regular flour, because not only does that make these gluten free, but it also works both as a binder and adds even more chickpea flavor and creaminess.

Serve these on whole wheat pita bread (not gluten free) with lots of veggies, or on a bed of fresh greens, or on their own with a side of lentil salad or tabouli. I pair these little chickpea patties with a garlicy Lemon Tahini Sauce (recipe follows), which really brings everything together.


  • 3 15oz cans of chickpeas, drained and washed
  • 1/2 tsp coconut oil (or olive oil, grapeseed oil - whatever you like, I just like coconut)
  • 2 celery stalks, small dice
  • ½ medium onion, small dice
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • ½-1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • 2 TBS chickpea flour (if gluten isn't a concern, you can just use unbleached all purpose or whole wheat flour)
  • 1TBS corn starch (non GMO!)
  • Juice of 1 lemon (about 2 TBS)
  • ½ cup parsley roughly chopped
  • Whole wheat pita bread 
  • Sliced tomatoes, kalamata olives, sprouts, spinach, sliced bell peppers, etc. 

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper

In a medium saute pan, saute the onion and celery over medium high heat, until the onions begin to caramelize. Add the garlic, and saute for another minute or so, until fragrant. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.

In a food processor (or blender - this just takes a little more work/side scraping), pulse the chickpeas until the texture resembles very chunky hummus (you still want to see bits of chickpeas). Pour half of the mashed up chickpeas into a large bowl. Now add the sauteed onion and celery, and the rest of the ingredients to the remaining chickpeas and pulse a few times, to mash them, and chop the parsley. Add the onion/celery mixture to the mashed chickpeas, and mix everything together - I usually just use my hands for this part.

Bake at 400 for 20 minutes. flip over, and bake for another 10 minutes until golden and crispy. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.

Lemon Tahini Sauce

  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 2 TBS water
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 TBS fresh parsley
  • Salt to tast
Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor, process until thick and creamy (you can add more water if it's getting too thick). Taste for seasoning, adjust if necessary, and drizzle over your falfel. This will keep in a sealed container, in the fridge for about 5-7 days.