Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Vegan Oil-Free Ranch Dressing (jalapeño ranch option)

I've been experimenting with ranch dressing for over 2 years.  I've tried many different recipes and have never made a bad one.  I consider this one a culmination of over 2 years of research and lots and lots of salads... and many batches of cauliflower buffalo wings!

If you like it spicy add the picked jalapeños. You won't be sorry!

Vegan Ranch Dressing
1 12.3-ounce box firm silken tofu
¼ cup soaked cashews
¾ tsp onion powder
2 tsp dried dill
1/3 cup non-dairy milk
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 large cloves garlic
2 Tbsp Braggs liquid aminos
2 Tbsp lemon juice
½ packet stevia, or about 3 drops liquid stevia
¼ cup nutritional yeast
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
3 Tbsp pickled jalapeño (optional, for jalapeño ranch dressing flavor)
Blend all ingredients in blender until smooth. Pour into glass jar and refrigerate.  Tastes best when allowed to chill in refrigerator for at least 2 hours, but still good immediately.

Creamed Spinach

I think I was a weird kid in comparison to your average kid in terms of food.  If my memory serves me correctly, I liked everything, including vegetables.  Much to my dismay, my 10-year did not inherit that from me.  Boohoo...

I distinctively remember creamed spinach being served for lunch at camp one summer and everyone refusing to eat it, except the adults and yours truly.  I remember yearning for seconds, but did not dare not for fear of being made fun of.

It occurred to me tonight that I've made wonderful vegan versions of hot spinach-artichoke dip, spinach souffle and spinach quiche, but never creamed spinach.  This is a simple recipe that can be ready to eat in about 20 minutes.  Just remember to soak your cashews ahead of time for best results.  It is creamy, brightly flavored with fresh spinach and good old-fashioned comfort food!

Creamed Spinach
1/3 cup raw cashews
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups non-dairy milk (I used soy milk)
1/4 cup brown rice flour
2 Tablespoons Braggs Liquid Aminos or low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast, optional but very good
1/4 ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 pound fresh spinach
Soak cashews in water for at least 2 hours, or 15 minutes in very hot water.
Place a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Sauté onion and garlic until soft and lightly golden. Add a tablespoon of water at a time to prevent sticking.  
Place all remaining ingredients, except spinach, in blender and blend until completely smooth.  Pour into skillet and continue heating over medium heat, whisking constantly, until thick and lightly bubbling, about 5 minutes.  Lower heat to medium-low, add spinach a little at a time and stir into sauce after each addition while it wilts.  The pan will seem too full, but the spinach will wilt down significantly.   Heat through and serve immediately.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

My Recipe Review of Dreamy Baked Bananas: Featured Recipe from “The China Study All-Star Collection Cookbook” 

Need a quick, easy and delicious dessert that you probably already have all the ingredients for?  Of course you do!  Put this in your arsenal because you are going to love it, maybe even need it, when you are searching for a quick dessert to make on the fly.
My Facebook friends and I have been swooning over this recipe as several of us have made this in the last few days. The recipe calls for raw cashew butter,  but this is certainly interchangeable with other nut or seed butters.  I used homemade raw almond butter.  I omitted the sugar sprinkling on the top because my bananas were perfectly ripe and didn't need additional sweetening.  A little bit of chopped nuts on top would certainly add a nice crunch - or some toasted coconut too!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Apple Pie à la Mode anyone?

Another smoothie, but I think I'm addicted!  This really is my new favorite green smoothie. I'm calling it Apple Pie a la Mode, cuz that's what it tastes like!  Drink up my friends!

1 frozen small banana
1 apple
1 cup non-dairy milk
1/4 cup oats
2 cups fresh spinach, or a combination of spinach and kale
1/2 cinnamon
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon flax and chia seeds
Stevia, to taste

Blend, blend, blend!  Now drink and smile! You're very welcome!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Potato Corn Chowder - Yes! Soup in the Summer!

Yep... soup in the summer IS what's for dinner.  Especially with this recipe from my CSA - Fresh Fork Market. This soup is incredibly seasonal with fresh corn, potatoes, tomatoes and herbs.  It is also so creamy and satisfying - REAL comfort food!

This soup didn't need any major modification.  It was written vegan and oil-free.  I used coconut milk as in the recipe, but any non-dairy milk can be used.  I also suggest cilantro rather than basil - it just seemed to make more sense to me. Honestly, any fresh herb that suits your personal taste will be fabulous!

Another plus I discovered is that this soup freezes and reheats very well.  Just save the garnishes to add when serving. 

Happy summer soup making! 

Labor Day Morning REAL Biscuits

Another one of my favorite blogs is
In a discussion yesterday on the Facebook group KidTestedFireFighterApproved, which is a spinoff of two blogs, Morgan posted her Jalapeño Ranch Dressing.  While reading the recipe, I linked to her Plant-Strong Mayo and her Fluffy and Tender Plant-Strong Biscuits recipes.  The biscuits were my first order of the day, after coffee, that is. These biscuits are phenomenal!  I used whole grain spelt flour because I'm out of whole wheat pastry flour and they came out as light and fluffy, if not more so, than wheat flour would have.  I ate mine warm right out of the oven topped with jam.  Now I believe gravy will be necessary!  

Here is a photo of the finished product right out of my oven, but Morgan's photos are far superior, so here is the link her blog for the recipe and to give credit where credit is due:

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Creamy Artichoke Spinach Dip

Dreena Burton is one of my favorite plant-based chefs online and this recipe can be found here:

It's been a while since I posted, I know.   This recipe is worth the wait.  I wouldn't have said that yesterday after the first few bites, but with a few minor tweaks and the appropriate vehicle to get this dip to your piehole, I completely changed my mind.

First of all,  this is really quick and easy - a great recipe that is easy to keep all ingredients on hand. 

Second, reduce the amount of garlic.   This recipe does not cook long enough to get rid of the harsh flavor and bite of raw garlic.   I strongly suggest using one small garlic clove,  or about the equivalent of only 2 teaspoons minced garlic.  

Third, I also used canned artichoke hearts.   Just make sure to get the ones packed in water, not the marinated ones that are dripping with oil and herbs/spices.  

Now for possibly the most important thing you need for this recipe... The correct vehicle to eat it on.  My mom and I started of using whole grain pita.  TERRIBLE CHOICE!   This dip is creamy and about the consistency of chunky applesauce.   It is imperative that whatever you dip in it is exactly the opposite.   You really need something crunchy, and preferably salty.   The non-vegan version of this dip is traditionally served with corn tortilla chips.   There's is a reason for that.  The contrasting texture is what makes all the difference between a very so-so taste experience and an "ah-ha" moment.   We started using pretzels and had that revelation.   Toasted pita chips would be great, as well as baked tortilla chips, whole grain Melba toast... You get the idea here.

As usual,  due to my lack of photographic skills, I'm using the original author's photo.  

Make this!   You won't be sorry! 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Cranberry-Apple Chutney

Nava Atlas' is a brilliant plant-based website.  She is inspiring and creative.  I've made several of her reciped and have never been disappointed.

This just may be the most delicious cranberry side dish ever.  What's so great about it is not just the complex flavor, but that it is super-fast, super-simple, takes commonly-found ingredients, and is beautiful.  My suggestion is to make the recipe exactly as written with one exception.  I used cloves that I freshly ground myself just before adding to the pot and that was slightly too intense for my taste.  Pre-ground cloves will have dulled a little in flavor, so if that's you have in the spice rack, use the full amount.

Happy Thanksgiving and DO make this!

Photo from

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Oil-Free Sweet Lemon Tahini Salad Dressing

Greek salad.... oh how I have always loved Greek salad.  The crisp romaine, salty/fruity Kalamata olives, pungent onions, summer-ripe tomatoes and refreshing cucumbers.  I love Greek salad.   Traditional Greek salad dressing is usually extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and/or red wine vinegar, garlic and oregano.  Several months ago, I spent a good amount of time searching for a suitable oil-free vegan Greek dressing or something close.  No dice.. nada, zilch.  I couldn't find anything that even remotely interested me.  While coming up with this dressing it hit me that it would be a great dressing for a Greek salad.  This dressing is quite a departure from the traditional, but what a wonderful combination of flavors it is.  In my normal true form, I snuck in, brought my own dressing to a restaurant last weekend and ordered Greek salad, sans the feta cheese of course.  I might have had an out-of-body experience.  This was delicious!  I know the chickpeas sound a bit odd as a salad dressing ingredient.  Thanks to Healthy Girl's Kitchen and her Caesar dressing for the inspiration on this one.  Chickpeas make an incredibly creamy dressing, provide fiber and protein, while not adding unwanted fat.  The dressing does not taste like chickpeas.  The lemon and tahini are the predominant flavors.  The flavor is bright with lemon, the texture is velvety-smooth and altogether enlightening!  The nice thing about this dressing also is that, at least for me, the ingredients are all staples in my kitchen.

Now I'm going to step onto my soapbox for a moment for a word about lemons.  Is there a National Lemon Board or something?  I'd happily do a free endorsement for them because of my love of lemons.  They are by far my favorite citrus fruit.  The flavor of lemon brightens and enhances so many foods.  Lemons are not only wonderful as a predominant flavor, but also as a seasoning or flavor booster.  A squeeze of fresh lemon juice in many bean dishes, soups, stews, sauces and dressings is the crowning touch to really bring out the flavors.  Try it some time when you feel your dish just needs a little more oomph.  But please , please, please - I beg of you - DO NOT use bottled lemon juice!  There is no comparison to freshly-squeezed juice.  Just as I previously spoke about using fresh nutmeg rather than the jarred crap product, the same goes for lemons.
What a pretty picture I found when searching for free lemon images, huh?
Regarding fresh lemon zest - be careful not to grate too much off the whole lemon.  Use only the outermost part that is bright yellow.  The pith, which is the white part of the lemon rind, is bitter.   You do not want that.  The outer yellow portion is where the lemon oil is and carries most intense flavor of the lemon.  For recipes with a predominantly lemon flavor such as desserts and dressings, I almost always add the zest of the lemon also, whether the recipe calls for it or not. 
Here is the recipe:
Oil-Free Sweet Lemon Tahini Salad Dressing
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, undrained
1 tablespoon lemon zest (zest of 2 lemons)
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice (juice of about 3 lemons)
6 tablespoons tahini
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
5 large pitted Medjool dates (or 8-10 small dates) - or other sweetener of choice
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
Add all ingredients to blender and process until smooth. 

I did the nutrition analysis based on a 1/4 cup serving.
That might be a little generous, but if you eat giant salads like I do, I think 1/4 is reasonable.  There really is no need to skimp on the dressing. Use as much or as little as you like!  If you are like me - pour it on!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Vegan What I Ate Wednesday #3 - Vegan Zucchini Nut Bread Smoothie

Wow… this is just might be my new favorite smoothie, but I proclaim that about once a week, so take that with a grain of salt. 
Zucchini Nut Bread Smoothie
I was all into my Pumpkin Pie Smoothies this week, but then I made this one this morning.  I’ve made it before, but for some reason this was better than the last few times.  Maybe it was the addition of freshly grated nutmeg.  We all know that spices are best used freshly-ground for best flavor, and nutmeg is one that I never use pre-ground.  There is absolutely no comparison of the taste of pre-ground nutmeg to freshly-grated.  I switched to grinding it myself when I once read somewhere that there is a high amount of sawdust in pre-ground nutmeg!  Whether that is true or not, I was incredibly disturbed. Then, once I tried it, the taste was so vibrant and bright that I was an instant convert.  I have this handy-dandy little nutmeg grater that has a hinged lid on the top where you store your whole nutmeg for future use.  It is super cheap too.  Check out this link:

Here are the ingredients:
1 cup non-dairy milk, (I use almond or soy usually)
1 medium banana, frozen
1 medium  zucchini, approximately 1 cup, ends cut off and roughly chopped
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon FRESHLY GROUND nutmeg, (I may have used more - just add more to suit your taste)
2 cups fresh spinach
Sweetener of choice (if banana is not sweet enough), to taste
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons pecans or walnuts, finely chopped
Place all ingredients except the nuts in blender and process until smooth.  Add ice if desired to thicken.  Stir in the finely chopped nuts. 
Note:  I like to stir the nuts in at the end rather than process them into the smoothie because I like a the little crunchy bits of nuts as I sip the smoothie.  Just use a wide straw so it doesn’t get clogged up.