Saturday, February 3, 2018

Garden Vegetable Quinoa Soup

Amazing, Healthy, Filling, Perfect, Serves: 8


  • 1 Tbsp olive oil 
  • 1 yellow onion 
  • 4 cloves garlic 
  • 3 carrots 
  • 3 ribs celery 
  • 15 oz. can kidney beans 
  • 15 oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes 
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil 
  • 1 tsp dried oregano 
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • Freshly cracked pepper 
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa 
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water 
  • 1/4 lb. kale or frozen spinach or some green


  1. Mince the garlic and dice the onion. Add the olive oil, garlic, and onion to a large pot and sauté over medium-low heat until the onions are soft and transparent.
  2. While the garlic and onion are cooking, wash and peel the carrots, then slice into 1/4-inch thick rounds. Wash the celery and slice into 1/4-inch pieces. Add the carrots and celery to the pot and continue to sauté until they just begin to soften (about 5 minutes).
  3. While the carrots and celery are cooking, rinse the quinoa well with cool running water in a wire mesh sieve. Drain and rinse the kidney beans. Add the quinoa, kidney beans, diced tomatoes, basil, oregano, smoked paprika, and some freshly cracked pepper.
  4. Add the vegetable broth and water to the pot, place a lid on top, and turn the heat up to medium-high. Allow the pot to come to a boil, then turn the heat down to low and let simmer for 25 minutes.
  5. After simmering for 25 minutes the quinoa should be slightly translucent and tender. If not, let simmer a few minutes longer. Stir in 1/4 lb. of kale or frozen spinach until heated through. Season with sea salt and ground black pepper.
Inspired by Budget bites

Monday, January 1, 2018

Vanilla Extract (homemade)

Since it takes six months for this to be ready, I make multiple batches. Basically, I buy the vodka and use it up with this recipe.

Slice vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the caviar

You'll need:

Vanilla beans (I use Madagascar Bourbon)
Sharp knife
Amber glass bottles
Vodka (I use Absolute or Smirnoff)

Cheese cloth (not entirely necessary)

- Slice 6 vanilla beans lengthwise and scrape out the 'caviar' with the back of a wide-tip knife.
- Cut the beans into 1/4" pieces. Place the 'caviar' and cut pieces in a amber glass bottle. 
- Add 2 cups of vodka to brown jar bottle and put the cap on the bottle
- Make your own label and mark when you made it and when it will be ready. It will be ready in 6 months. I know ... that's a long time.
- Store the bottle in a cool dark place
- Shake the bottle once a day for the first week
- Shake the bottle once a week for a couple weeks
- Shake the bottle when you think of it
- When the 6 months have passed, use the cheese cloth to strain the vanilla extract and then put it back into the amber bottle. I don't mind having bits of the caviar in the vanilla extract. Sometimes I don't even strain it. It's now ready to use.
Cautionary note: The alcohol will burn off when baking but it will be present if you use it for something you don't bake.

Vodka price varies based on the number of times it is distilled. It's cleaner and smoother. Top shelf is most expensive while the college budget is on the bottom. I go for something in between.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Life-Changing Vegan Thumbprint Cookies

Makes about 4 dozen 2 inch cookies

2 cups whole almonds or other nut like walnuts, pecans, or pistachios
4 cups old-fashioned oats
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups flour (a mix of coconut and whole wheat flour). More coconut than whole wheat.
1 cup canola oil or melted coconut oil
1 cup maple syrup
Assorted jams of your choice

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a food processor, pulse the nuts until they are chopped into smallish pieces. It's OK if you have a variety of sizes, just don't grind them to a flour. I tend to leave them chunkier than most people because I like to bite into a decent piece of nut when eating these cookies. BTransfer the chopped nuts into a large bowl.
Using the same food processor bowl, grind the oats with the salt into a coarse meal. Again, I like to leave a little texture in the oats. Transfer the oats to the bowl with the nuts, then add 1 -1/4 cup of flour, reserving the remaining 1/4 cup (don't need that last 1/4 cup).
Pour the oil into the bowl, followed by the maple syrup. (Doing it in this order, and using the same measuring cup, means that all the maple syrup will glide out effortlessly.)
Mix with a wooden spoon until combined. If the dough seem runny, add the additional flour but don't worry if it is too soft, as it will stiffen up a bit as it sits. I usually let it sit for about 15 minutes.
Form the dough into rough balls about the size of a whole walnut. The dough will be slightly wet but surprisingly not too sticky. Ice cream scoopers are good here. The cookies can be fairly close together as they don't spread much.
Using the back of a round 1/2 teaspoon measure, make an indentation in the top of each cookie. Use it to fill the indentation with your jam of choice.
Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the cookies begin to brown slightly. Remove from oven and let cool for about 15 minutes before moving to a rack to cool further (they're a bit fragile when they first come out of the oven).


Try a variety of jams for taste and color: red raspberry, apricot or orange marmalade.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Baked Buffalo Cauliflower

Preheat the oven to 450°F. 
Prepare the batter for the cauliflower by combining:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup Silk Soymilk
1 teaspoon garlic powder 
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
Whisk until smooth and thickened. 

Gently toss the cauliflower with the batter, being sure to coat the cauliflower thoroughly...

Line a baking sheet with foil and place a rack on top of the foil. Generously spray the rack with cooking spray and place the coated cauliflower onto the rack, being sure to leave space between each one... 

Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes or until the cauliflower starts to brown. 
While the cauliflower is baking, melt 3 tablespoons dairy-free butter 
mix with 1 (5 ounce) bottle of cayenne pepper sauce and 1 tablespoon maple syrup. 
Whisk to combine. Give it a taste and adjust the flavors to your liking.

When the cauliflower is ready, remove it from the oven and toss with the hot sauce mixture.

Spray the rack with cooking spray again and place the cauliflower back on the rack. Put back in the oven for 10 more minutes until browned to your liking. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. Transfer to a serving dish with the Dairy-Free Ranch Dip and enjoy!


Monday, March 6, 2017

Shepherd's Pie

Serves 6
4 russet potatoes
3 carrots
3 celery stalks
1/2 yellow onion
2 cups chopped mushrooms (one package)
1 Tbsp flour
1 tsp fresh thyme
1 tsp fresh sage
4 garlic cloves
2 cups veggie broth
1/3 cup red wine
almond or soy milk
vegan butter

Peel, chop and boil the potatoes for 10-15 minutes until soft.

Meanwhile, chop the carrots, celery and onion, saute in vegan butter or oil for a few minutes. Add the mushrooms, and cook until the edges begin to darken.
Add the garlic and season with salt and pepper.
Add tomato paste, flour, thyme and sage. Slowly add the veggie broth and wine, stirring continuously. Let simmer for a few minutes to thicken.

Mash the potatoes and add the soy milk and vegan butter. Add more if needed until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Lay the veggie filling in a baking dish, then spread the mashed potatoes over the top. At this time you can get creative with designs and patterns on the top. The rougher the surface the crispier it will turn out.

Spray the top with cooking oil. Broil for 10-15 minutes or until the top is crispy.

Favorite gravy base 

3 T melted earth balance
1/4 cup flour (whisk into butter)
1 cup unsweetened soy milk
1.5 cup veg broth
2 T liquid aminos (or soy sauce)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast



  • 1 medium cauliflower
  • 1 tbsp crunchy peanut butter (sugar-free)
  • 2 tsp solid coconut oil (about 20g)
  • 1 tbsp tamari or other good soy sauce
  • Juice of ½ lime (reserve the other ½ for serving)
  • 1 tsp garam masala


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Cut the cauliflower into bite-size florets and combine in a baking tin or dish with the rest of the ingredients, ensuring each piece of cauliflower is nicely coated with the mixture.
  3. Spread out the cauliflower evenly, without overlapping too much.
  4. Cover with foil and place in the top of the oven for 15 minutes. If you use a larger cauliflower, this stage will take longer (or you’ll have more crunchy florets).
  5. Remove the foil, stir, and return to the oven uncovered for 10 minutes to give the edges a nice crisp.
  6. To serve, squeeze on a little more lime juice and season with black pepper.