Thursday, September 30, 2010

Pasta Carbonara

So it finally happened, I finally got sick after not being ill for a long time. I think its because of the crazy weather we're having out here. Los Angeles broke its old record and was a smoldering 113 F again Tuesday and then can you believe it rained Wednesday! Some people are talking about a big earthquake hitting Southern California but I hope that doesn't happen.

I feel some what better today so I got up and made some Pasta Carbonara. I'd say it took me under an hour to make. I've tried this recipe before with soy milk, instead of tofu but it left it tasting a lot like soy milk and not how I intended it to taste. Tofu's flavor is less intense and worked well in not over powdering the other ingredient's flavors.

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Serves 4 to 6

* 1 recipe Tempeh Bacon ( Recipe Below ) or Smart Bacon, cook as directed on package
* 1 pound spaghetti noodles or your favorite pasta noodles
* 1 package of silken tofu
* 2 Tb melted vegan butter ( such as Earth Balance )
* 1/3 cup vegan soy Parmesan, plus more for garnish
* 1 Tb nutritional yeast
* Vegetable Broth
* salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 1/4 cup peas
* salt and pepper

1. In a large pot, bring water to a boil and cook pasta noodles until al dente, 8-9 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2. While pasta noodles are cooking, start preparing your sauce.

3. In a blender or food processor, add the tofu, butter, Parmesan, nutritional yeast and enough vegetable broth to get everything nice and creamy.

4. Over medium heat, in a large skillet, add the sauce and heat through, about 5 minutes. Add the pasta noodles, along with the bacon and peas and stir until everything is well combined and heated through.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To Serve - Divide pasta into four to six separate bowls and garnish with more Parmesan cheese if desired.

Tempeh Bacon


* 1 ( 8-oz pkg ) tempeh, sliced into 24 very thin slices or as many as you can slice
* 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
* 2 Tb apple cider vinegar
* 1 tsp light brown sugar
* 1/2 tsp ground cumin
* 1/2 tsp ancho chile powder
* 2 tsp liquid smoke, optional
* 1 Tb canola oil
* Smoked paprika, optional

1. Lay tempeh slices in 2 13- x 9-inch baking dishes. Bring soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, cumin, ancho chile powder, and ½ cup water to a boil in small saucepan. Boil 1 minute, then remove from heat, and stir in liquid smoke, if using.

2. Pour over tempeh slices. Let cool, then cover and chill 2 hours, or overnight.

3. Preheat oven to 300°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Carefully transfer tempeh slices to prepared baking sheet, and discard marinade.

4. Brush slices with canola oil, and sprinkle with paprika, if desired. Bake 10 to 15 minutes, or until beginning to brown. Flip tempeh slices, brush with oil, and bake 5 to 7 minutes more, or until crisp and dark brown.

This past weekend I painted my room a pretty blue-ish purple. I love adding colors to my walls, it really adds so much more to a room than leaving them white.

Here's a picture I snapped last night of my child modeling the new wall : ]

Monday, September 27, 2010

Sloppy Jose

Sloppy Jose are a little like their distant cousin, the Sloppy Joe, but like the name suggests, they have more of a Spanish twist. The added heat from the chile powder, red pepper flakes and the flavor of the oregano helps to make this sandwich stand above the well known Sloppy Joe.

I see this more as a grown-up version of the Sloppy Joe, as well. Especially if you choose to add the Chianti to the sauce. I topped mine with lettuce, tomatoes, Daiya Cheddar Cheese and avocado slices.

Serves 6

Tomato Sauce

* 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 4 shallots, minced
* 2 tsp capers
* 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes ( optional )
* 1/2 tsp dried oregano
* 1/4 tsp ground fennel seed
* 1/4 cup vegetable broth or Chianti
* 1 ( 15 ounce ) can diced tomatoes
* 1/2 tsp salt, plus more as needed
* 1 Tb minced fresh basil leaves
* Freshly ground black pepper

Sloppy Jose

* 2 tsp canola oil
* 1 red onion, cut into 1/4 inch dice
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 1 Tb brown sugar
* 1 Tb chile powder
* 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
* 24 ounces ( 1 1/2 cups )tempeh or extra firm tofu, crumbled ( I both used tempeh and tofu )
* 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
* 1 Tb tamari
* Vegetable stock or water

* Bread
* Lettuce
* Tomatoes
* Onion ( optional )
* Avocado ( optional )
* Vegan Cheddar Cheese ( optional )

To make the tomato sauce
1. Place a saucepan over medium heat and add the oil. Add the garilc and shallots and saute for 5 minutes, or until translucent.

2. Add the capers, pepper flakes, oregano and fennel. Saute for 30 seconds, or until fragrant.

3. Add the vegetable broth or wine and stir to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

4. Add the tomatoes and salt. Decrease the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, or until slightly thickened.

5. Add the basil, and season with salt and pepper to taste. ( Store refrigerated for up to 5 days )

To make the Sloppy Jose mixture
1. Place a heavy skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil. Add the onions, garlic, brown sugar, chile powder, pepper flakes, salt and black pepper. Saute for 1 to 2 minutes, until the onions are soft.

2. Add the tempeh, and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 mintues.

3. Add the tomato sauce, the balsamic vinegar and tamari. Stir to combine and cook over low heat for 10 minutes, or until thick. If the mixture is too thick, add a little vegetable stock or to reach the desired consistency.

To make the sandwiches
Toast the bread you will be using. Spoon the tempeh mixture over the bottom halves of the bread. Add the lettuce, tomato, onion, avocado and cheese as desired, and cover with the top piece of the bread.

Nutritional Information
Per Serving : 539 calories ( 20 from fat ), 21g protein, 61g carbohydrate, 13.6g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 1081 mg sodium, 4.8g fiber

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Faux Turkey Breasts with Mashed Parsnips and Potatoes

This is my tester Thankgiving meal. Well kinda...of course I will add a lot more than just two sides. Mostly, I just wanted to test out the turkey recipe. Last year I had only been vegan for 4 months when Thanksgiving came around and I had no idea how to make my own turkey. I saw recipes online where you combine a lot of tofu, mold it and steam it but it didn't sound right to me. So I ended up buying a Tofurkey but promised myself that next year I would make my own.

These turkey breasts are so good and really not that complicated to make. The added spices, especially the sage, filled my house with the warm aroma of Thankgiving. The only thing is that they are really fragile. So when I tried to move them from the baking sheet to a plate, a piece of the end broke off on one. I had to be really careful with them and take each one out slowly using a spatula. I'll be attempting this recipe again sometime before Thanksgiving. Maybe next time with a little wheat gluten to help keep it from breaking apart so easily. But for now, these worked out just fine : ]

Faux Turkey Breasts
Makes 8

* 1 pound tempeh
* 12 ounces water-packed firm tofu, drained
* 1/3 cup yellow miso
* 3 Tb Dijon Mustard
* 1/4 cup plus 2 Tb canola oil
* 2 large onions, finely chopped
* 3 Tb Holiday Herb Mix ( Recipe Below )
* 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
* 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1. Using a food processor fitted with a shredding disk, shred the tempeh and tofu ( the mixture will appear crumbled ).

2. In a small bowl, stir the miso and mustard to blend. Set the tempeh mixture and miso mixture aside.

3. Heat the 1/4 cup oil in a large, heavy frying pan over medium high heat. Add the onion and saute for 8 minutes, or until translucent.

4. Stir in the herb mix, salt, and pepper, then stir in the tempeh and miso mixture. Saute for 8 minutes, or until golden brown. Set aside until cool enough to handle.

5. Preheat the oven to 350 F and brush 1 Tb of the oil over a heavy, rimmed baking sheet.

6. Use your hands to shape the tempeh mixture into eight patties, using about 3/4 cup for each; make oval patties that are 4 to 5 inches long, about 3 inches wide, and tapered at one end to resemble chicken breasts.

7. Arrange the patties on the prepared baking sheet and brush the remaining 1 Tb oil over the patties.

Prepared up to this point, the patties will keep for 2 days, covered and refrigerated.

8. Bake for 35 minutes, or until golden and heated through.

Holiday Herb Mix
Makes 3 Tb

* 1 Tb and 1 tsp dried sage
* 2 tsp dried marjoram
* 2 tsp dried rosemary
* 2 tsp dried thyme
* A twist or two of freshly ground black pepper

1. Stir all the ingredients in a small bowl to blend.

Mashed Parsnips and Potatoes
Serves 6

* 2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
* 1 pound parsnips, peeled and coarsely chopped
* 1 cup unsweetened plain soymilk
* 2 Tb olive oil
* 1 tsp sea salt
* Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

1. Pour enough water into a large pot to come 1 inch up the sides. Set a steamer basket in the pot, cover and bring the water to a boil over high heat. Place the potatoes in the basket and steam for 20 minutes, or until very tender.

2. Transfer to a large saucepan and mash until smooth. Cover and set the potatoes in a warm place.

3. Meanwhile, use the same method to steam the parsnips for 20 minutes, or until very tender.

4. Add to the potatoes and mash until smooth.

5. Place the saucepan over low heat and stir in the soymilk, olive oil, salt and white pepper. Cook for 5 mintues, or until heated through.

6. Transfer to a bowl and serve.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Pho is a Vietnamese soup that is usually served with meat and it's broth is heavily relied on beef. The soup also consists of rice noodles, basil, cilantro and bean sprouts. Hoison sauce and Sirachi sauce are also served on the side, which help to bring sweetness and spicy-ness to the soup. Altogether, a great combination but a real challenge into creating a vegan Pho recipe, since its main ingredient is meat.

I order Pho a lot from a nearby restaurant and I decided that the time has finally come for me to figure out how to make my own. I searched many sites on vegan and non-vegan Pho recipes and combined them to come up with what I am posting today. Adding mushrooms to the stock really helped to bring a meaty and deep flavor to the broth. That's the one ingredient that I think played a big part in helping it to come all together.

For the clear broth, if you want something simpler, you can use a Chinese clear stock recipe that I believe only contains 5 ingredients. But I would again suggest adding mushrooms to the stock. And of course, the more ingredients you add, the deeper and richer the broth will be.

Lastly, I also sliced up some firm tofu ( that had been pressed and drained ), brushed a little olive oil on each slice and baked it at 380 F for about 12 minutes. You can also pan fry the tofu for about 4 to 5 minutes each side on medium heat. I also threw in some seitan that I had made previously and stored in the freezer. If you want to keep it simple, serve it alone with rice noodles or purchase some already made "beef" or "chicken" strips. You really can't go wrong with Pho!

Serves 4 to 6

For the Broth

* 2 onions, un-peeled and quartered
* 8 garlic cloves, halved
* 1 inch piece of ginger, coarsely sliced
* 2 cinnamon sticks
* 4 pods of star anise
* 4 cloves
* 2 tsp coriander seeds
* 2 tsp fennel seeds
* 2 tsp or 1 pod of cardamom
* 8 cups clear Asian vegetable stock ( recipe below )
* 3 Tb soy sauce
* salt to taste

For the Soup

* 1 pound rice noodles
* 1 ( 14 oz ) container of Firm Tofu, fried and sliced
* 1 1/2 cups bean sprouts
* a good handful of basil, mint and cilantro, left whole
* 1 lime, cut into wedges
* hoisin sauce
* sriracha chili paste

To make the broth
1. Turn your broiler on high and move rack to the highest spot. Place ginger and onions on baking sheet. Brush just a bit of cooking oil on the cut side of each.

2. Broil on high until ginger and onions begin to char. Turn over and continue to char. This should take a total of 10-15 minutes.

3. Heat a small pot over medium/high heat. Add the spices ( cinnamon, star anise, cloves, coriander, fennel seeds and cardamom. )

4. In a large pot, add 1 tsp olive oil and saute the garlic for a minute or two, or until it just starts to brown and become fragrant.

5. Add the spices, the charred onion and ginger, the vegetable stock and soy sauce. Bring to a boil over high heat. Turn the heat down to medium-low, cover, and simmer for about 25 minutes.

6. Strain into a clean pot and discard the solids. Taste the broth and add salt if necessary. Keep warm over low heat.

7. While the broth is simmering, prepare the rice noodles. Place the noodles in a large bowl. Pour boiling water over the noodles to cover and soak for 15 minutes.

8. When you are ready to assemble the soup, add the seitan or tofu to the warm broth and allow to heat through.

9. Drain the soaked rice noodles and divide evenly among 4 to 6 large bowls. Using a slotted spoon, scoop the seitan or tofu out of the broth and distribute among the bowls. Ladle the hot broth over the noodles. Serve the bowls of pho with the bean sprouts, herbs, lime wedges, hoisin sauce and chili sauce on a separate platter so that everyone can season their own soup as they wish.

Asian Vegetable Stock
Makes 8 cups
* 10 cups cold water
* 1 yellow onion, halved
* 2 cloves garlic
* 2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
* 2 celery stalks
* 1/4 pound button mushrooms, with or without stems
* 1 bay leaf
* 2 parsley sprigs
* 2 stalks lemongrass, crushed or coarsely chopped
* 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh ginger
* 1/2 cup shiitake mushroom stems
* 1 bunch cilantro stems
* 1 bunch basil stems
* 1 ( 1 inch ) piece kombu sea vegetable
* 4 peppercorns

1. Combine all of the ingredients in a large pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 45 hour. Strain.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Fusille with Summer Vegetables and Southwestern Roasted Carrot Puree

This was my first time having pasta with a roasted carrot sauce. I thought it sounded unique and I was curious how it would taste. Since I saw that summer squash was on sale, I decided to take advantage of it. But for future reference, I would suggest mixing and matching different types of squash and root vegetables. Summer squash has a really strong flavor and it kinda overpowered the other flavors in the pasta. I really did like the sauce though. The cumin seeds with the ancho chile help to give this meal a really warm, nutty and slight spicy flavor. With some slight adjustments this pasta can be a real winner!

Serves 6
Ingredients - Roasted Carrot Puree

* 1 yellow onion, cut into 1/2 inch dice
* 2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice
* 1 celery stalk, diced
* 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil, or sherry or vegetable stock
* 2 tsp cumin seeds
* 1/2 tsp fresh Mexican oregano
* 1/3 tsp salt
* 1 dried ancho chile, seeded
* 2 cups vegetable stock or 1 cup vegetable stock and 1 cup carrot juice, plus more as needed
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Fusille with Vegetables

* 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil, or 1/4 cup vegetable stock
* 2 fennel bulbs, thinly sliced
* 4 cloves garlic, minced
* 1 cup sliced portobello mushrooms
* 3 cups summer squash or root vegetable, cut into 1/2 inch dice and cooked al-dente
* 1 cup tightly packed spinach leaves
* 3/4 pound fusille, cooked al-dente
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cilantro leaves, for garnish
6 lime wedges, for garnish

Directions - To make the puree
1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. In a bowl, toss the onion, carrot, and celery together with the olive oil, cumin, oregano and stock. Place in a shallow baking dish deep enough for only one layer of vegetables. Bake for 20 minutes, stirring the vegetables after 10 minutes, or until lightly browned.

2. Add the ancho chile and 1 cup of the vegetable stock. Return the pan to the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until the carrots are soft. Let cool to room temperature.

3. Transfer to a blender and blend ( in batches if needed ) with the remaining 1 cup vegetable stock, adding more stock if needed to achieve a smooth puree. Add salt and pepper to taste.

To make the noodles and vegetables
1. Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over high heat. Add the fennel and garlic and saute for 1 minute or until it just starts to brown.

2. Add the mushrooms and the squash and saute for 2 to 3 minutes, until the mushrooms are just soft.

3. Add the spinach leaves and carrot puree and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until heated through.

4. Toss in the pasta, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

To Serve - Divide the pasta among 6 pasta bowls. Garnish with cilantro leaves and a lime wedge.

Nutritional Information
Per Serving : 331 calories, 11.3g protein, 66g carbohydrates, 3g fat, 0mg cholesterol, 357mg sodium, 9.9g fiber

Per 1/2 cup puree : 67 calories, 1.6g protein, 13g carbohydrate, 1.2g fat, 0mg cholesterol, 144mg sodium, 3.7g fiber

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Tomato Bisque

I'll be going to the last movie showing at the Hollywood Cemetery tonight to watch "Night of the Living Dead." I love cooking for friends and I figured hot soup would be best for a cold picnic outside. I love this soup because you can basically serve it with anything and it would go great. It's also really quick to make, so you can be cooking your main dish while this one simmers.

For tonight, I plan to make pesto paninis. Anything warm please! Last time we watched a movie out there I was freezing. I'll take some pictures tonight and share them with you guys. Have a great weekend everyone! : ]

Printer Friendly Recipe Here

Serves 6
Prep Time : 1 hour, 20 minutes


* Sea salt
* 4 Tb Earth Balance or vegan margarine
* 1 onion, chopped
* 1 carrot, chopped
* 1 stalk celery, chopped
* 3 cloves garlic, smashed
* 2 Tb unbleached all-purpose flour
* 5 cups faux chicken stock ( try Better than Bouillon brand )
* 1 ( 28 ounce ) can whole fire-roasted tomatoes, juice included
* 1 Tb minced fresh parsley
* Leaves from 2 fresh thyme sprigs
* 1 bay leaf
* Freshly ground black pepper
* 1 1/2 cups regular Cashew Cream or Soy Creamer
* Parsley for garnish

1. Place a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the Earth Balance and stir until melted, being careful not to let it burn.

2. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

3. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and continue cooking and stirring for 2 minutes.

4. Add the stock, tomatoes with juice, parsley, thyme and bay leaf.

5. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

6. Season with freshly ground black pepper (add a little salt if you wish but the "chicken" stock is already high in sodium, so only add if you think it's really necessary ), then add the Cashew Cream. Continue to simmer ( do not boil ) for 10 minutes.

7. Remove the bay leaf. Working in batches, pour the soup into a blender, cover the lid with a towel ( the hot liquid tends to erupt ), and blend on high for several minutes, until very smooth. Pour the soup through a fine-mesh sieve. Ladle into bowls and garnish with parsley.