Monday, October 13, 2008

Vegan BBQ Fried Rice

Yeeeeeee-Haw! This is wild west inspired comfort food. It is a fairly frugal main course - it really stretches a bag of 'steak strips'. And it shouldn't be too scary for the meat and potatoes crowd.

Vegan BBQ Fried Rice
Serves 6

> 3 cloves garlic - chopped
> 1/2 medium onion - minced
> 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
> 3 cups cooked long grain rice - cooked in vegetable stock
> 1 bag Morningstar Farms Veggie Steak Strips
> 15 oz. can kidney beans - rinsed and drained
> 15 oz. can crushed tomatoes
> 1/4 c. KC style barbecue sauce
> salt to taste

1. Fry garlic and onions in oil for about 20 seconds
2. Add 'steak strips' and cook while cutting them into tiny pieces with your spatula.
3. Add rice, beans, and crushed tomatoes and mix thoroughly.
4. Simmer for about 2 minutes
5. Add barbecue sauce and salt and mix thoroughly.

My notes for this recipe...

1. The "KC" in KC style barbecue sauce stands for "Kansas City." It is characterized by a distinct molasses flavor. You can buy "KC Masterpiece" brand sauce for about $3, or look for a "KC style" generic sauce - I got a bottle at Fred Meyer for $.79.

2. Rice that was cooked the day before and has dried out a little bit always works best for fried rice.

3. If the leftovers are too dry you can add a splash of water and re-heat in the microwave in a covered dish.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Idaho Dutch Oven Stew Recipe (vegan)

This stew is a childhood memory. My mom used to make a non-vegan version of it when I was a kid. We both happen to be vegan now. She still had the recipe so I decided to modify it and 'dutch oven' it. A barbecue isn't the only way to cook in the back yard.

If you want to make this while camping you will probably need to make the sauce ahead of time since it requires a blender. My mother-in-law just aquired a hand crank blender. I haven't had a chance to test it yet - maybe it would do the job.

I cooked this on a day when temperatures were in the 50s and there was a moderate wind. You can see from the third photo that I attempted to make a wind shelter with some patio pavers. Even with that precaution my cooking temperature was affected. The weather can have a dramatic effect on temperature when you are dutch oven cooking. You can read up on it over at the dutch oven dude. See my notes following the recipe for temperature advice.

Do you want my biased opinion? this stuff is G-O-O-D, even if it doesn't bring back childhood memories for you. My kids thought it was great. Their favorite part was the little corn on the cobs.

Idaho Dutch Oven Stew
Serves 6

>1/4 cup vegetable oil
> 16oz Morningstar Farms Veggie Steak Strips
> 2 medium potatoes, cut into 6 pieces
> 2 large carrots, cut into 6 pieces
> 2 large ears of corn, quartered

sauce ingredients...

> 28 oz. canned tomatoes
> 1 small red onion, chopped
> 2 garlic clove,minced
> 4 oz. canned green chili peppers, drained, halved, and seeded
> 1 Tbsp. sesame seeds
> 1 tsp coriander
> 1/2 tsp. salt
> 1/2 tsp. black pepper
> 1/2 tsp. chili powder
> 1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1.) First make the sauce. Put all the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.

2.) Heat the oil in a Dutch oven. Add the veggie steak strips and fry until browned.

3.) Stir in the sauce and bring to a boil, then cover and simmer gently for 35 - 45 minutes.

4.) Stir in the potatoes, carrots, and corn. Cover again and continue simmering gently for 1 hour or until vegetables are tender. Adjust the seasoning before serving.
My notes for this recipe:

1. Keep in mind that a batch of briquettes will typically stay good and hot for about 35 - 45 minutes. You probably need two or three batches to get this stew cooked.

2. I was stewing in a 12" dutch oven, shooting for 325 degrees F. According to the dutch oven dude's calculator that requires 21 briquettes. It was too cold of a day - I should have used extra. It took more than 1 hour for the vegetables to get tender.

3. You could get it to cook faster if you cut the vegetables smaller, but there goes the coolness factor.

4. This is best served on a plate with a fork - so you can smash the large chunks of vegetables before eating.

See Also...

Vegan Dutch Oven Pot Pie Recipe

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Vegan & Vegetarian Options at Fast Food Restaraunts

As much as I try to avoid it I find myself eating at fast food restaraunts and popular chain restaraunts once in awhile. And sometimes I am in the mood for a little more thand fries and a Coke. There is a handy webpage that I use when I know I will be going to a restaraunt ahead of time:

Vegetarian & Vegan Options at Fast Food Restaraunts

Most restaraunts provide a certain amount of nutritional information on their websites but typically don't go as far as listing ingredients. You can always call the local restaraunt with questions. This has been hit and miss for me. Sometimes I get someone willing to find the package of seasoned curly fries and read the ingredients to me over the phone. Other times the person on the other end doesn't know, doesn't want to know, doesn't care if I know, hates his/her job (who can blame them for that?), etc.

The information provided on the webpage above appears to be pretty well researched. I have no idea how often it is updated. But you may find it useful. There are a lot of restaraunts listed that I would not consider to be 'fast food'. Here is the complete list:

Applebee's - Arby's - Atlanta Bread Company - Au Bon Pain - Auntie Anne's - Baskin-Robbins -Bob's Big Boy - Bojangles - Boston Market - Bruegger's Bagel - Burger King - Carl's JR - Checker's Drive-in Restaurant - Chi-Chi's Mexican Restaurant - Chili's - Chick-Fil-A - Chuck E. Cheese's - Church's Fried Chicken - Country Kitchen International - Cracker Barrel - Dairy Queen - Del Taco - Damon's - Denny's - Domino's Pizza - Dunkin' Donuts - Eat'N Park - El Chico's - El Pollo Loco - Fazoli's - Fresh Choice - Fuddruckers - Godfather's Pizza - Golden Fried Chicken - Gold Star Chili - Hardee's - Hot Stuff Pizza - Jack in the Box - Kentucky Fried Chicken - Krispy Kreme - Little Caesar's - Long John Silver's - Manchu Wok - Manhattan Bagel - Mazzio's Pizza - McDonald's - Miami Subs - Moe's - Nathan's - Olive Garden - Panera - Papa John's - Perkins - Pizza Hut - Pizzeria Uno Chicago Grill - Popeye's - Rally's - Rita's Italian Ices - Round Table Pizza - Shakey's - Sonic Drive-in Restaurant - Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes - Steak Escape - Subway - Swiss Chalet - Taco Bell - Taco John's - Taco Time - TCBY - Tim Hortons - T.G.I. Fridays - Tony Roma's - Wendy's - Western Sizzlin's - Western Steer - Whataburger

Now you know, and knowing is half the battle. Are there any fellow nerds out there who can tell me where they have heard that before?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

vegan pepperoni pizza recipe

This is a great pizza recipe that I adapted from a non-vegan cookbook. I don't feel like giving free publicity to a cookbook that is full of meat and cheese recipes so I won't mention the title. But trust me - this is probably the most adaptable recipe in the whole book because it does not depend on pounds of cheese for the flavor.

I have never been a big fan of vegan pizza that uses a lot of vegan cheese - it has never tasted "really good" to me, more like "almost pizza." I also get tired of the typical tomato sauce and veggies. If you do end up with the tomato sauce and veggie pizza it is a lot better if you put your favorite salad dressing on it. I like that better than melted vegan cheese.

This is one of the pizza recipes I plan to feature on this website. It is unique and very tasty. Here is a bit of trivia to go along with this pizza. You can be the Cliff Claven of your pizza party with this: The Italian word for bell peppers is peperoni.

vegan pepperoni pizza
makes one pizza

> 2 large red bell peppers, cut into strips
> 1 medium sweet onion, chopped
> 3 cloves garlic, chopped
> 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
> 1/2 tsp dried oregano
> 1 cup canned diced tomatoes
> 1/4 tsp salt
> 2 oz. (or more if you like) sliced vegan pepperoni, coated in oil

1. Combine the peppers, onions, garlic, oil, oregano, and 1/4 cup water in a large skilled. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender crisp, about 15 minutes.

2. Add the tomatoes and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated and the vegetables are tender. Add salt and let cool.

3. Spoon the vegetable mixture over a prepared pizza dough (recipe follows.)

4. Arrange the pepperoni evenly on top of the vegetable mixture, pushing the pepperoni in a little bit.

5. Bake in a pre-heated 500 degree oven, 6 or 7 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and crisp.

pizza dough
makes one 12-inch crust

> 1 cup + 2 Tbsp warm water
> 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
> 1 Tbsp oil
> 1-3/4 cup all-purpose flour
> 3/4 tsp salt
> cornmeal + extra flour

1. Combine the water, yeast, oil, flour, and salt. Knead on a floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 6 minutes (or about 4 minutes in a standing mixer.)

2. Put the dough into an oiled bowl and cover with a damp towel. Let rise until almost doubled in size, about an hour.

3. Roll the dough out to about 12-inches diameter on a pizza peel or other flat surface that has been lightly sprinkled with cornmeal and flour.
my notes for this recipe:

1. If you have a bread machine it probably has a pizza dough cycle. This will take care of steps 1 and 2 for you.

2. The dough can be refrigerated in an airtight container or wrapped in plastic overnight, or it can be frozen.

3. Coating the pepperoni in oil is important to keep it from burning while the pizza cooks. I add extra oil to most meat substitutes because they tend to be dry otherwise.

4. I have never tried making my own pepperoni but I found out from Vegan Dad that it can be done. I am putting this on my list of things to try. Update July, 2008: I tried the recipe from Vegan Dad and it was just as good as the stuff you can buy. I might add some red food coloring to it next time.

5. I have also never tried making my own vegan parmesan cheese substitute. I will have to give that a try too.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Soy Milk - Make or Buy?

Here is a brief history of soy milk from my perspective:

164 BC - Soy milk was (probably) invented in China in 164 BC by Liu An of the Han Dynasty.

164 BC - 2001 AD - yada yada yada

2001 AD - When I first started eating a vegan diet in 2001 it was available at certain stores in aseptic packaging (the cardboard packages that don't have to be refrigerated until opened) or as a dry mix.

2008 and beyond... - Now you can find it at most grocery stores in the dairy section or in aseptic packaging. Even Walmart is getting a piece of the action with an organic line of soy milk marketed under its Great Value brand.

What is it? Soy milk is the result of cooking soy beans, blending them in hot water, and then straining out the pulp. Most commercially available soy milks are also flavored with salt, sweetener, vanilla, chocolate, etc. The pulp that is left behind is called "okara" and is high in nutrients and fiber. Soy milk is also a precursor to tofu. If you want to be a tofu scholar you should start at Wikipedia.

One attractive aspect of making your own soy milk is the cost savings. If you are a single person and rarely eat cereal, and never want to make vegan ice cream or pudding that calls for soy milk, then the price might not seem like a big deal. However a cereal loving family with one or more kids stands to save a lot of money if they decide to be frugal and make rather than buy. Here is a price comparison (based on prices at the time of this blog entry.) Note that the refrigerated and aseptically package soy milk typically comes in either a 1 quart or 1/2 gallon size. The prices in the table are based on the equivalent price per gallon.

Soy milk Price Comparison
storebrand packaging$/gallonnotes
WalmartGreat Valuerefrigerated$4.92store brand
Silkrefrigerated$5.52national brand
CostcoKirklandaseptic$4.00store brand
AmazonBetter Than Milkdry mix$5.00great for camping/hiking
homeyou choosepitcherpennies

As you can see there is a lot of money to be saved if you are willing to be milk some beans. A few years ago I was trying to be frugal and do just that. I purchased an automatic soy milk maker thinking I would use it all the time. What could be better than fresh soy milk that is easy to make and costs next to nothing?

What I found out was that I didn't like the flavor of fresh soy milk as well as what I could buy. From what I have read most people don't like the flavor as much. I also found out that it is not that easy to make.

The process of brewing a batch isn't difficult, but cleaning the machine and straining the milk is a real pain. I don't mind doing it once in awhile, but not every other day. If you don't strain it it will be gritty.

Another problem I had was with the soy milk going bad really fast (within 3 days). And when you have a batch turn sour, watch out. It smells bad and even starts to look slimy. If you are careful to scald everything that will touch the soy milk this will be less of a problem.

I had the best luck with Bryanna Grogan's always-creamy-never-beany recipe. This rice/soy milk tasted fairly close to what you can get from the store. If you do make your own and dislike the beany flavor of most homemade soy milk recipes then you should give hers a try.

If you want to try homemade soy milk without investing $100 in a maker you can do it the old fashion way, with a blender. I have never tried it this because I read that the temperature is difficult to control, and that getting the temperature right is critical to getting good flavor. The automatic soy milk makers (pictured below) have a built-in thermostat so the temperature is perfect every time.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

vegan lettuce wraps recipe - kid version

My kids weren't very impressed with the lettuce wraps at the birthday party the other night. My oldest said that his favorite food that was served was the potato chips. I think he meant just the chips, he didn't mention the delicious vegan onion dip my Mom brought over.

This is the simple, kid friendly variation I came up with for them to try last night. Both boys ate them up .


vegan lettuce wraps - kid version

> lettuce leaves (butter lettuce works best)
> tofu
> hoisin sauce

1. Scramble and fry the tofu in a little bit of oil. Set aside and let cool to room temperature.
2. Wash the lettuce leaves and pat dry.
3. Put desired amount of scrambled tofu and hoisin sauce on each lettuce leaf.
4. Roll each leaf up and serve.

My notes on this recipe:

1. You can use toothpicks to keep them closed if the kids are old enough that they won't try to eat them. Food with toothpicks has a certain coolness factor that kids pick up on.

2. Picky grown-ups would probably like these too. You might consider serving these alongside some more adventurous lettuce wraps if you will be hosting guests from the meat and potatoes crowd.

3. Hoisin sauce, also called Chinese barbeque sauce is a fragrant, pungent, sweet sauce used frequently in Asian stir-fries and marinades. You can find it in the Asian section of most grocery stores. I have noticed that most grocery stores charge a high price for a small jar. I get mine (the kind pictured here) at a local Asian grocery store for about $2.


Be sure to check out these lettuce wraps.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

vegan lettuce wraps recipe

Lettuce wraps are great party food. I served these at my wife's birthday party last night and they were well received. Of all of the variations I have tried the Thai version in Robin Robertson's Vegan Planet (available from are my favorite.

The ingredients are pictured above starting with cilantro at the top of the large plate. Moving clockwise we have minced shallots, minced serrano peppers (the Vegan Planet calls for Thai chiles), chopped peanuts, toasted coconut, minced lime (the whole lime), and minced ginger. The brown 'sauce' in the middle is a combination of peanuts, tamari soy sauce, toasted coconut, and brown sugar. These ingredients are boiled until thickened and then blended until smooth (I posted the recipe below.) The wrapper is butter lettuce.

The first time I served these I pre-wrapped them before the party started. I remember they were a little sour because I used too much lime in each one. This time I just put the ingredients out in small bowls and let people wrap their own. Some people skipped the hot peppers, others skipped the shallots. I think people enjoy putting their own food together.

Biting into one of these is amazing - all of those strong flavors hit you at once. The leftovers were gone by noon today. Here is the recipe for the sweet and salty sauce:

Lettuce wrap 'sauce' (more like a paste)

> 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, toasted
> 1/4 cup unsalted dry roasted peanuts
> 1/4 cup brown sugar
> 3 Tbsp tamari
> 1/3 cup water

Combine the ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Transfer to a blender or food processor and process until smooth.

This is one of 400 great recipes from Robin Robertson's Vegan Planet. For other sample recipes see my chili and corn bread post.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Free Vegan Cookbooks

The Vitalita Culinary Group (VCG) is offering two vegan cookbooks that you can download for free. Both books together offer over 150 original vegan recipes. You can access .pdf versions of either book by clicking the pictures at the bottom of this post. When I was looking through them The Blood Orange Sherbet caught my eye (pictured above) as well as the Saffron-Garbanzo Rice Pilaf Wrapped in Filo (pictured below.)

You can purchase printed versions of these cookbooks for $16 each from their website.

The electronic versions are free to download but are intended as shareware. Therefore, if you enjoy using them, you are asked to send a $10 contribution (for each cookbook) to show your appreciation. All proceeds from these cookbooks are donated to Vegan Outreach (a non-profit vegan advocacy/education group). You can send all contributions directly to Vegan Outreach at:

Vegan Outreach
P.O. Box 30865
Tucson, AZ 85751-0865 USA

Or you can make an electronic donation at

If you try any of these recipes, please leave a comment and let us know how it turned out!

Tangy Potato Salad Recipe

This is a recipe I adapted from an old Sunset Vegetarian Cooking cookbook. I am a big fan of potato salad. We typically make a traditional potato salad which is soft and creamy. This recipe is good too - I have never tasted anything like it. It is colorful, crisp, and tangy.

We have always served this during the summer. I have memories of green grass and barbecues and this salad. It would also be tasty during the cold months with vegetables from the last garden harvest.
Tangy Potato Salad Recipe
adapted from Sunset Vegetarian Cooking
makes 10 servings

> 1 lb potatoes
> caper dressing (recipe below)
> 2 medium granny smith apples
> 3 medium carrots, thinly sliced
> 1 small red onion, chopped
> 1 medium green pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
> 15 oz. can pickled beets, drained and diced

1. Place potatoes in 1-inch of boiling water, cover, and cook just until tender when pierced (20 to 25 minutes)

2. Meanwhile, prepare caper dressing in large bowl.

3. Drain potatoes, cool, peel, and dice directly into the dressing.

4. Dice the apples into the dressing. Lightly stir in carrots, onion, green pepper, and beets. Cover and refrigerator for at least 6 hours.

Caper Dressing...

> 3 Tbsp white vinegar
> 3 Tbsp capers
> 1/2 cup vegetable oil
> 2 tsp sugar
> 1 tsp dry mustard
> 1 tsp salt
> 1/4 tsp black pepper
> 1/4 tsp paprika

Stir ingredients together.

My notes for this recipe:

1. The original recipe calls for 1/4 tsp dill in the dressing. Dill makes me sick to my stomach. I can eat a dill pickle but that is about it. The recipe is great without it but if you like dill you might want to put it in.

2. This salad holds up well in the refrigerator. You can make it the day before serving and it will taste great.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Vegan Salad Dressing Recipe Collection part 1

A trip to the salad bar is a trip we vegans often make when eating out. Things are normally satisfactory until the end of the line - where are the ingredients labels for these salad dressings? Most of the time I end up using vinegar and oil. Sometimes I take a chance and get the French dressing.

But you don't have to be deprived at home. There are plenty of tasty dressings available at the grocery store that make the grade. Annie makes some pretty good stuff, but be prepared to pay $3.50+ per bottle.

Here are some recipes for 4 basic vegan salad dressings that don't use weird ingredients and won't break the bank. Unless you consider vegan mayonnaise to be weird. If you haven't heard already, the best tasting vegan mayonnaise is Vegannaise. It is full fat and full flavor. You may notice that I lean more toward flavor and less toward low calorie on this site. But I do avoid transfat for the most part.

Print these out and keep them handy:
Vegan Ranch Dressing
from Dragonshoes at

> 1 cup vegan mayonnaise
> 1/2 tsp garlic powder
> 1/2 tsp onion powder
> 1/4 tsp black pepper
> 2 tsp parsley , chopped
> 1/2 cup unsweetened soymilk

Whisk all ingredients together and chill before serving. Add a little more soy milk if you need to thin dressing.


Vegan Thousand Island Dressing
adapted from Graybert at

> 1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise
> 2 Tbsp ketchup

> 1 Tbsp white vinegar
> 2 tsp sugar
> 2 tsp sweet pickle relish
> 1 tsp finely minced white onions
> 1/8 tsp salt

> 1 dash black pepper

1. Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl. Stir well.

2. Place dressing in a covered container and refrigerate for several hours, stirring occasionally, so that the sugar dissolves and the flavors blend.

Vegan French Dressing
from Darlene Summers at

> 1 cup corn oil
> 1 cup ketchup
> 1/2 cup sugar
> 1/4 cup white vinegar
> 1/4 cup water
> 1 tsp garlic salt
> 1 tsp black pepper
> 1/4 tsp salt

Put all ingredients in blender and blend until well mixed.

Vegan Italian Dressing
from Darlene Summers at

> 1 cup salad oil
> 1/3 cup wine vinegar
> 1 tsp salt
> 1 tsp sugar
> 1/4 tsp dried oregano leaves, crushed
> 1/4 tsp dry mustard
> 1/4 tsp paprika
> 1 garlic clove, minced

1. Combine all ingredients in a jar with a lid; cover and shake to mix thoroughly.

2. Let stand at least 2 hours to blend seasonings.

3. shake well before using.

For part 2 of this series I will try for some more exotic flavors.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

VegBlogs: Vegan Blog Tracker

I just discovered a great way to keep track of what is going on at multiple vegan blogs:

fetches the latest vegan blog posts from around the web to help you find stories and podcasts that interest you. "

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Vegan Maple Citrus Glazed Sweet Potatoes Recipe

This has got to be one of the best things I have ever tasted from a grill. Sweet potatoes and fire get along perfectly. Don't be confused by the labels in the produce aisle. For the best flavor you want buy what the local grocer calls "yams". They aren't really yams at all - good luck finding a real yam. This is part of an elaborate conspiracy that is tied up with the fake moon landing, fluoride in the water, and the DHARMA Initiative.

Since the weather is turning warm again I hope to be posting more recipes that can be cooked outside, either on the grill or in the dutch oven. If it is still cold where you are you can still enjoy this recipe fresh from the broiler pan.

Maple Citrus Glazed Sweet Potatoes

> 1/4 cup lime juice
> 1/4 cup real maple syrup
> 1 Tbsp soy sauce
> 1 tsp mustard
> 3 garlic cloves, minced
> 1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
> about 3 lbs sweet potatoes

1. Combine all of the ingredients except the sweet potatoes together in a large bowl and whisk thoroughly. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into 1/4-inch rounds. Add the potatoes to the bowl and toss to coat evenly.

2. (grilling instructions) Use a medium heat fire and turn frequently. Baste with liquid from the bowl whenever the potatoes are turned. Grill until they are lightly charred and can be easily pierced with a fork, about 15 minutes.

3. (broiling instructions) Leave adequate space between the heat source and the broiling pan. This can take some experimentation. Turn the potatoes frequently. Baste with liquid from the bowl whenever the potatoes are turned. Broil until they can be easily pierced with a fork, about 15 minutes.

My notes for this recipe:

1. If you substitute lemon juice for lime juice you lose a lot of the flavor.

2. Getting the right heat and the right distance from the flame takes some experience and experimentation. You might want to practice with one piece of potato at a time until you get it right.

3. You should use a vegetable grill rack (see below.) The pieces of potato have a tendency to slip into the fire.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Award Winning Vegan Chocolate Fondue Recipe

This is a recipe my wife created. We took it to a fondue party last night and it won the award for best dessert, hence the title of this post.

One of the other dishes we took to the party was the
vegan meatballs I posted the other day. these were served with a fondue pot full of Classico tomato and basil marinara sauce. I recommend this marinara if you don't have time to make your own. Unlike most marinara sauces you can buy these days it is not sweetened. The meatballs didn't win an award but they were all eaten up by the end of the night.

There was one funny thing that happened. We got to the party a little late and there was not much room left on the table to put our food out. We ended up with the crockpot full of chocolate fondue next to the casserole dish full of meatballs. We put a little label card on each that simply read, "vegan". After that we were standing in line and the hostess ran up to us and said that WE NEED TO MOVE THE CHOCOLATE! PEOPLE THINK IT IS BARBECUE SAUCE AND THEY'RE DIPPING THE MEATBALLS IN IT! Apparently people didn't notice the marinara fondue pot, but it seemed obvious that the two things marked "vegan" must go together.


> 12 oz. semisweet vegan chocolate chips
> 3/4 c. soy milk
> 1 tsp. vanilla extract
> 1/2 tsp. almond extract
> assorted bite size food for dipping (strawberries, bananas, pineapple, pretzels, cookies, brownies, etc.)

Combine the chocolate chips, soy milk, vanilla extract, and almond extract in a slow cooker. Turn the cooker on "high" and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chips are completely melted and the sauce is smooth. Serve in a fondue pot, or in the slow cooker set on "low".

My notes on this recipe:

1. You can add extra soy milk to thin the fondue if you want to. You would probably need to do this if you wanted to use it in a chocolate fountain.

2. The fondue is the consistency of a stiff frosting at room temperature.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Vegan "Meatballs" Recipe

This is an easy, great tasting recipe that I developed based on similar recipes that Chef Deb has posted on her discussion forum. These are great to serve at parties. I have seen non-vegetarians scarfing these down at my house.

In the past I have made a huge batch of these and frozen them. They tend to fall apart more after they have been thawed. But the taste and texture are not affected.

This recipe does rely heavily on pre-packaged meat substitutes. These always drive the cost of a recipe up. But they are very convenient and taste good. I have experimented with trying to make vegan "meats" at home but have had mixed results. I will post some of the recipes I have had the most luck with in the near future. If anyone knows of any vegan "meat" recipes that turn out as good as what you can buy, feel free to leave a link or copy of the recipe in the comments.

> 1 package Gimme Lean (Sausage or "Beef" Flavor)
> 6 oz vegan burger crumbles
> 1/2 cup cracker crumbs (saltines)
> 1/2 tsp onion powder
> 1/2 tsp garlic powder
> 1/2 tsp dried oregano
> 1/4 tsp basil
> 1/4 tsp salt
> dash of pepper
> 2 Tbsp olive oil
> additional vegetable oil for cooking

Combine all ingredients in a bowl or electric mixer. Form into any size balls you like. Brown on all sides in oil. Continue heating until hot throughout.
My notes for this recipe:
1. I typically use burger crumbles from Morningstar Farms.

These would probably work great in a deep fryer if you are going for maximum juiciness.
3. I have made these with both the "beef" and sausage flavor Gimme Lean. I like both, but I get the most positive feedback with the sausage flavor.
4. I have served these with pasta and marinara, with toothpicks covered with marinara, and with marinara fondue.
5. This recipe has me thinking about the meatball subs I used to get from Subway when I was (not vegan) in college. Maybe meatball subs will be on the menu next week.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Vegan Twinkies

I'm going to eat a Twinkie. Who woulda thunk it? Because they contain animal fat I have not eaten a Twinkie since becoming vegetarian, long before my transition to veganism. To tell the truth I never thought they were THAT good even when I was a kid. I always enjoyed my Mom's home baking more than anything that was available in a crinkly plastic wrapper. But now I will eat one just because I can.

I recently stumbled on this post at shmooed food that provides a recipe which, according to the reviews, tastes better than real Twinkies anyway. Now all I need is my own Hostess Twinkie Baking Set which is available at Amazon for the low, low price of $9.99 and I can live the dream.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Real Vegetarian Thai Sample Recipe: Simple Curry Paste Recipe

I highly recommend this Thai cookbook. The recipes turn out just as good as what you would expect to order in a restaraunt. Of course you have a lot more dishes to choose from since you don't have to worry about egg and fish sauce that is so prevalent in authentic Thai cooking. One of the recipes I use the most out of this book is the basic curry recipe posted below. This is what the author has to say about it:

" Here is my stripped down version of Thai curry paste, using ingredients available in many supermarkets. Make it in a flash and then turn a few spoonfuls of your freshly made paste into tonight's pot of curry. This will work in any recipe calling for a Thai-style paste."

The books also contains recipes for more authentic curry pastes with ingredients that you may need to get at an Asian grocery store. One popular ingredient in Thai cooking is lemon grass. I think I will try to grow some this year, and post the results here.

> 5 fresh serrano chilies, 3 fresh green jalapeno chiles, or 7 long, slender dried red chilies
> 1 cup coarsely chopped cilatro leaves and stems
> 1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
> 1/3 cup peeled and coarsely chopped fresh ginger
> 1/4 cup chopped garlic (15 to 20 cloves)
> 1 Tbsp grated lime zest
> 1 Tbsp ground coriander
> 1 tsp ground cumin
> 1 tsp freshly ground pepper
> 1 tsp salt

Stem the chilies and discard some of the seeds. Chop the fresh chilies coarsely. Soak the dried chilies in water to cover for about 10 minutes.

Drain the dried chilies, if using. Combine all of the ingredients in a blender or mini processor and grind to a fine, fairly smooth puree, stopping often to scrape down the sides and adding a few tablespoons of water as needed to move the blades. Transfer to a jar, seal airtight, and keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Makes about 1 cup.

My notes on this recipe:

1. I have always used fresh serrano chilies and it has turned out well.

2. Most of the heat in the chilies are in the seeds, so use more seeds if you want it hot and less if you want it milder. What I like to do is make it mild but set aside a small amount in a dish. Then I blend all of the chilie seeds into the small amount and let people add that to their serving of curry if they want to spice it up.

3. You can also use red chilie paste to increase the heat, it is available in a squeeze bottle in the Asian section of most grocery stores.

I will be posting some Thai recipes in the weeks to come, some of which can be made with this curry paste.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Vegan Planet Review and Sample Recipes

Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson is a great cookbook - one of the ones I use the most. It has over 400 recipes covering....everything. With over 70 reviews and a 4-1/2 star rating at how can you go wrong? These are the recipes that I have tried and recommend:

- Thai-Style Leaf-Wrapped Appetizer Bites
- Baked Sweet Potato and Green Pea Samosas

- Quinoa Tabbouleh
- Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce
- Balsamic Vinaigrette with Garlic and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
- Three-Fruit Chutney
- Chickpea and Green Bean Tagine (double the garlic, cinnamon, turmeric, and allspice)
- Three-Bean Dal (I use a hand blender to partially blend this - I like it best when it is creamy)
- Red Bean Cakes with Creamy Coconut Sauce
- Irish Soda Bread

Here are two sample recipes from the book that go well together and that I make all the time:


> 1 Tbsp olive oil
> 1 large yellow onion, chopped
> 2 Tbsp chili powder, or to your taste
> 1/2 tsp dried oregano
> 1/2 tsp cayenne
> one 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
> one 6-ounce can tomato paste
> 2 cups water
> 2 cups vegetarian burger crumbles
> 3 cups cooked or 2 15-ounce cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
> salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, cover, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chili powder, oregano, cayenne, tomatoes, tomato paste, and water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.

2. Stir in the burger crumbles, beans, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for about 30 minutes to blend the flavors. Serve hot.

serves 6

Notes for this recipe: This is GOOD, rich, flavorful chili. Some of the vegan chili recipes I have tried in the past have been watery enough that I would argue that I was eating bean soup. And others taste too much like green peppers, or onions, or something else that is not CHILI. I typically use burger crumbles from Morningstar Farms. I have tried TVP but it does not work as well. I serve it with Fritos and guacamole but it tastes perfectly good on its own. Another good addition is chipotle flavored Tobasco sauce.


> 1-1/4 cups yellow cornmeal
> 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
> 2-1/2 tsp baking powder
> 1 tsp salt
> 1 cup soy milk or other dairy-free milk
> 3 Tbsp pure maple syrup
> 1 cup fresh, canned, or frozen corn kernels, cooked and drained
> 1/4 cup corn oil
> 2 Tbsp finely chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

2. In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.

3. In a medium size bowl, combine the soy milk, maple syrup, corn kernels, corn oil, and chiles and set aside.

4. Heat a well-oiled cast-iron skillet over medium heat until hot. While the skillet is heating, add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well with a few quick strokes. Transfer the batter to the hot skillet and bake on the center oven rack until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve hot or warm.

makes 1 loaf

Notes for this recipe: The chipotle chiles give this a great smokey flavor. I have made it without chiles and it turned out fine too. I have also made it with green chiles. The green chiles didn't add much flavor. Most of the time I substitute corn syrup for maple syrup and it doesn't seem to affect the flavor much. Whatever you do, do not use artificially flavored maple syrup. Your corn bread will taste like pancakes. I have always used an 8x8 glass baking dish instead of a cast iron skillet. This would be a good recipe to try in the dutch oven.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Vegan Dutch Oven Pot Pie Recipe

This recipe takes a lot of preparation but it is worth it. It is adapted from the "Tofu Pot Pie" recipe in Tofu Cookery. The number of briquettes is based on a 12-inch dutch oven during calm, warm weather. You can adjust the number of briquettes for your oven and weather conditions by following the advice of the Dutch Oven Dude:

serves 12-16

Use a minimum 5 quart dutch oven. I used a 12-inch Lodge oven which holds 8 quarts. There was more than enough room for this recipe.

Have ready:

> approx. 2 lb firm tofu (not silken) frozen, thawed, squeezed dry, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes.
> 2 cups potatoes, cut into 1/2" cubes and parboiled for 10 minutes
> 2 cup carrots, sliced or cut into 1/2" cubes and parboiled for 10 minutes
> 2 cups frozen peas
> 4 cloves garlic, minced

Top Crust...

> 2 cups flour
> 1 cup vegetable shortening
> 1 teaspoon salt
> 1/2 cup water

Mix flour and salt with a fork. Cut shortening into flour/salt mixture with fork until dough appears crumbly. Add water a little at a time, until the dough can form a ball. Roll out dough on a floured surface to the diameter of the dutch oven. Cover with a damp towel while preparing the gravy and filling.


Heat about 24 briquettes. Place about 12 briquettes under the oven and allow it to preheat. To prepare the gravy, bubble together over low heat for about one minute:

> 6 Tbsp oil
> 6 Tbsp flour
> 6 Tbsp nutritional yeast

Whisk in:

> 3 cups water
> 3 cups soymilk
> 2 tsp salt
> 2 tsp sage
> 1 tsp thyme
> 1 tsp garlic powder
> 1 tsp black pepper
> 1 tsp paprika

Heat and stir with the whisk until boiling and thickened. Pour the gravy into a pan or metal bowl and wipe oven clean with a paper towel.

Putting it all together...

Saute together:

> 2 Tbsp oil
> 1 medium onion, finely chopped
> 1 tsp salt

When the onions are soft, add the garlic, tofu cubes, parboiled vegetables and peas, and simmer for about 2 minutes, mixing frequently. Mix in the gravy and cover with the pie crust. Put the lid on and arrange briquettes to bake at 350 degrees (about 18 on the lid, 6 underneath). Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the crust is golden.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Dutch Oven Cooking

Did you know that when the young American country began to spread westward across the North American continent, so did the Dutch oven? A Dutch oven was among the gear Lewis and Clark carried when they explored the great American Northwest in 1804-1806. The pioneers who settled the American West also took along their Dutch ovens.

You are probably addicted to
Wikipedia too. As far as addictions go, you could do worse.

A dutch oven is a thick-walled cooking pot with a tight-fitting lid. Most dutch ovens are made from cast iron. Aluminum dutch ovens are available and are typically used when weight is a concern (hiking, rafting, etc.) Cast iron ovens are best to use when possible because they heat food more evenly. My current collection consists of two ovens, a 12-inch and an 8-inch, both cast iron. The 12" Lodge cast iron dutch oven weighs in at a hefty 23 pounds. I intend to experiment with them in the months to come and post the results here.

The first recipe I tried, a pot pie, was very tasty. It was adapted from a recipe in Tofu Cookery by Louise Hagler, a staple in my kitchen:

I posted the recipe here. Is there something you are wanting to make in a dutch oven but can't find a good recipe? Leave a comment and I will see what I can do.

Welcome - good vegan recipe links

Hello and welcome to Vegan Recipes from Idahovegan. If you try any of the recipes, please leave a comment and let me know what you think. If you have any suggestions for improvement, please let me know.

Here are some links that I find useful:

Chef Deb's recipe discussion forum at vegsource:
The software used for the forum is truly terrible, but Chef Deb is a genius and will answer your questions regarding recipes and ingredient substitutions.

My last search for the keyword "vegan" showed 943 results. Two things that stand out to me about this website are the abundant reviews of recipes, and the fact that you can adjust the number of servings you want and get a customized ingredients list. The reviews are very helpful. It irks me when I try a recipe from a cookbook or website (or some lousy blog!) and it turns out to be bland or with a less than appetizing texture. It seems to happen a lot. WE NEED QUALITY CONTROL!