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Vegan MoFo 2016!!! Pineapple Not-So-Fried Rice!

3 Nov

Hi all!  Welcome to the Vegan Month of Food (MoFo) 2016!  This is the event when vegan food bloggers from all over the world post on their blogs as many days as possible for the whole month.  Check out all the other bloggers posting an amazing variety of plant-based deliciousness!

As you  can see,  I’m a few days late in my first post but that’s okay.  I plan to be quite kind to myself as I participate in this years blogfest.  In the past, I’ve made myself a little nuts thinking I had to post every single day or I just wasn’t doing it “right”.  This year, I plan to share some great vegan food and recipes as much as it works for me throughout November and have fun doing it.  No pressure.  Ahhh…  I hope you enjoy and get some good ideas!

Two nights ago, I made a delicious recipe from Chef Chloe Coscarelli’s  first cookbook, Choe’s Kitchen.  It’s called Pineapple Not-So-Fried Rice and it was so delicious!  The pineapple is such a nice sweet counterpart to the curry spiced rice and crunchy cashews.


I made a few changes to the recipe….She called for tossing the tofu cubes with soy sauce and baking.  I decided I wanted a more interesting marinade for the tofu and found one in Terry Hope Romero’s cookbook Salad Samurai.


This Red-Hot Saucy Tofu was fantastic and added a spicy complexity to the final dish.  I will definitely use this marinade for other things…I can imagine cauliflower roasted in this red hot goodness.

Lastly, Chef Chloe’s recipe did not call for roasting the cashews before adding them to the dish but I would highly recommend it.  This keeps them crunchy in the stir fry process.

This recipe makes a large amount.  Good for 8-10 servings.



Best Vegan Sandwich in Ann Arbor?

26 Aug

Hello, dear readers!   It’s been a very long time since I’ve posted on my blog.  I’ve not been contributing to furthering the vegan message in my community much at all the last few years except for a few hours volunteering here and there…and of course asking for vegan food at every restaurant I go to!  After co-founding  Ann Arbor’s first Veg Week in April of 2013, I found myself taking somewhat of a hiatus from my vegan activism.  Although I continued to teach monthly vegan cooking classes at Whole Foods through December 2015, I chose to let go of the idea of making Ann Arbor Veg Week an annual event.  My heart just wasn’t in it and I’ve learned to listen to myself before I make commitments, especially ones that require a lot of energy and dedication.

I’ve been pondering for awhile now what my next project would be.  I’m  clear my passion lies in promoting the eating of more plants and less (no) animals.  I’ve asked myself what aspect of advocating a vegan lifestyle excited me and had an impact by inspiring others to become plant eaters, too!

So here’s what’s been interesting me for awhile now:  I have a strong desire to increase the amount and variety of vegan food options available in Ann Arbor (and Ypsilanti!), especially in non-vegan restaurants. I would like to be able to go to ANY restaurant and find a delicious vegan entree on the menu.  My goal is to inspire the many talented chefs in Ann Arbor to create something special for their venue, thereby making yummy vegan food available for everyone who patronizes their establishment.  Vegans get their needs met and non-vegans get to taste how fantastic plant-based dining can be. What’s more perfect than that?

By the way, you can help make more plant-based food available at any restaurant by always inquiring, in a pleasant way, if there are vegan options offered.  Be sincere in your appreciation of  what they do have and make requests for additional items.  You might be surprised at the positive response you get.

To promote the fantastic vegan food already available in our fine town, and to stimulate buzz for additional items,  I’m planning to post “best of” reviews for food categories at vegan and non-vegan restaurants in the area.  I’ll write about best pizza, best appetizer, best stir fry, best burger, best soup, best salad, best burrito and others.  I’m interested in hearing your ideas and recommendations in these categories and others you suggest, so please let me know your thoughts.

So, to start this off, tell me about your favorite vegan sandwich in Ann Arbor or Ypsilanti.  I personally have two current favorites of my own, namely the Tree Town Tempeh Reuben at The Lunch Room and the Falafel Sandwich from Jerusalem Garden.  Try the Falafel with Hummus and pickled turnips, our family’s favorite combo.  Have you had either of these?  What other local vegan sandwiches should be in contention in the “Best Of” competition?



Magnificent Minestrone

30 Jan

IMG_3989Jim and I met many years ago when I had just graduated from nursing school and he was a fourth year resident.  When we both started getting paychecks and had a few extra dollars, we used to go to Lelli’s Restaurant in downtown Detroit for special occasions.  Their minestrone soup was the best we’d ever had….chunky and creamy and so delicious! (The picture above was taken day 2 and when it was cold, so it looks more like a stew.  It tastes so much better than this picture looks.  Photography is still not my forte!)

When my sister-in-law made minestrone soup for a family occasion, it was equally delicious, so of course I asked for the recipe. Would you believe that the recipe was for the famous “Lelli’s Minestrone Soup”?  Thank you universe!

I’ve made this soup a number of times now and it has become a much loved regular in our home, (meaning at least 2 bowls each, and for my husband, maybe three……and that’s just the first night). It’s great because the needed ingredients are staples. I usually always have carrots, celery, onions, potatoes and crushed canned tomatoes and beans.  So no extra shopping necessary!

I’ve made some changes….the original recipe calls for 4 tablespoons butter…I use just one teaspoon of olive oil and to be honest, you could get away with using none at all.  The original recipe calls for chicken broth, so I subbed in the Better Than Bouillon brand no chicken broth base.  This is my favorite brand of broth.  It comes in vegetable and mushroom flavors also. The original recipe also called for parmesan cheese and skim milk.  I’ve completed eliminated the milk, as the soup gets creamy with the blending of the beans, potatoes and broth.  Instead of the dairy parmesan, I’ve sprinkled the top of my serving with Go Veggie dairy free parmesan. Leave it out and let people add it if they wish.

I’ve made this recipe with different amounts of carrots, celery, and potatoes as well as varying amounts and types of herbs.  I think the combination I put together last night was the best so far!

Minestrone Soup

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/3 cup broth

3/4 cup chopped onion (1 medium)

3 carrots, chopped

3 medium yukon potatoes, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes with basil

4 cups No Chicken bouillon

1 14 ounce can cannelini beans, with juice

1 14 ounce garbanzo beans, with juice

3/4-1 bag fresh baby spinach, chopped

2 tsp fresh thyme

1 teaspoon basil (can use fresh, to taste)

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper (or to taste)

1/3-1/2 cup small whole wheat macaroni-elbow, etc.

Saute onions, carrots, potatoes and celery in broth and oil until softened.  Add tomatoes, rest of broth, beans, herbs and spinach.  Season with salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for 1-1/2 hours.  Blend some of the soup into creaminess using an immersion  blender.  Alternatively, take out 1/2 of the mixture and blend in a standing blender and return to the pot.  Add pasta and bring back to a boil and simmer until pasta is tender.  Flavors continue to improve as they meld together.

Powie! Pesto Pasta

4 Sep


I have my garden in pots on my deck this year which is wonderful because I take better care of them when I see them all the time!  I have dino kale and curly kale, fennel, collards, swiss chard, parsley, basil, dill, oregano, three kinds of cherry tomatoes and jalapenos.  My basil plants were calling out to me “eat me, eat me, can’t you see I’m ready?”  Which only means one thing to me…..PESTO!  In previous years, I have always run out of basil before the growing season is over.  This year I made sure to plant plenty, which as it turns out is 8 plants.  I haven’t run out yet!  I’m leaving on a three week trip mid-month so I think I may need to make more pesto to freeze before I leave.  Can’t let delicious fresh basil go to waste!

I’ve been using this kind of brown-rice pasta lately and I’m loving it!  I added some lightly steamed broccoli on top and I had a gorgeous green meal.

Note to self:  Although you like to use the whole recipe on a pound of spaghetti, your sweet husband likes less pesto on his pasta  (more for me!).

This recipe is based on an oil-free vegan pesto you can find here.  I tweaked it ever so gently.

2 cups tightly packed fresh basil (go ahead and pack it in!)

3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

1/4 cup walnuts

1/4 cup pine nuts

juice of 1/2 medium lemon

3 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1/3 cup water

sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Place all the ingredients except salt and pepper in a food processor and pulse to combine.  Process until smooth and season with sea salt and pepper as desired.


Broccoli and Gardein Beefless Tips Stir Fry

16 Oct

Vegan MoFo Post number 8!  I had just a little bit of time to throw a meal together and wanted to clean my refrigerator by using up everything in there.  I looked in my fridge and found fresh broccoli from the Farmer’s Market and fresh button mushrooms.  I found Gardein Beefless Tips in my freezer.  Perfect.  I got out my wok and made a delicious stir fry.  I also made some whole wheat couscous as I didn’t have time to cook brown rice and didn’t feel like quinoa, which is also relatively quick cooking.

I don’t know if you’ve tried any of the Gardein products but they are fantastic.  Their meatless burger is the best vegan burger I’ve had, except when I’m in the mood for a homemade bean burger!  These Beefless tips just needed a bit of browning before throwing together with the stir fry.  I used very little oil, some no chicken broth, some soy sauce, some hoisin sauce, garlic and crushed red pepper.  Deelicious!

Give Gardein a try!

Sweet and Spicy Chili

13 Oct


It is soooo good to be back posting on Vegan Mofo!  I have fallen behind on my posts as I was out of commission.  You see I was down with the flu for the last week and I could not even consider looking at food let alone cooking it or eating it.  So you can understand how wonderful it feels to be able to think about food with delight again instead of turning green inside and out.

Anyway, here’s my 6th post for Vegan MoFo, Sweet and Spicy Chili adapted from Robin Robertson’s Vegan Planet Cookbook.  My husband loves this chili!  I would call it a pantry chili since much of it comes from cans and spices so that it’s quick to throw together.  I changed it up a bit by using pinto and kidney beans and using spicy sausage vegetarian crumbles, but you can use whatever beans and vegetarian meat substitute you prefer.  Or leave the veggie meat out altogether and throw in some pumpkin or butternut squash.  And of course, always double so that you have some to freeze!  Yum!

Make sure to check out some of Robin Robertson’s other recipes on her blog.


1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small sweet yellow onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons chili powder

2 teaspoons brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

one 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained

one 6-ounce can tomato paste

2 cups apple juice

one 4-ounce can diced hot green chiles

one 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

one 15-ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed

2 cups vegetarian sausage crumbles

Heat olive oil in large pot over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Stir in chili powder, brown sugar, cumin, cinnamon, salt, and cayenne.  Add tomatoes and juice, tomato paste, apple juice, chiles and beans.  Stir to combine and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low, stir in the veggie crumbles and simmer for 30 minutes.  Adjust seasonings to taste.

Veganizing My Mom’s Stuffed Cabbage Rolls!

9 Oct

Here they are, my mom’s stuffed cabbage rolls, along with a few extra “neatballs” made from the cabbage stuffing, veganized!

I remember loving these cabbage rolls when I was growing up.  Of course, they were not vegan but I would top them with a big dab of sour cream and again, my nonvegan, dairy eating childhood is exposed!  My niece, Angie, had been asking my mom to teach her how to make her stuffed cabbage rolls for a long time now. We both went to my mom’s to learn how to recreate her recipe, except of course, I planned to make a vegan version.  Thanks, mom, for sharing this simple yet delicious recipe!


1 medium to large cabbage

1 package Boca crumbles or other meat substitute

1 cup uncooked brown rice

1 tablespoon parsley. or more to taste

1 tablespoon basil, or to taste

1-14 oz can stewed tomatoes, blended

2 cans Amy’s tomato soup

1 tablespoon brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350.

Steam or boil the whole cabbage in a large pot.  When the leaves get a little soft, remove the cabbage from the pot and place in colander.  Cut out the hard core with a sharp knife.  Place the whole cabbage back into the simmering pot.  The leaves will soften more and start separating from the head.  Depending on how many leaves you will be stuffing, you may need to remove the now smaller head again to cut out more of the core. You want the leaves just soft enough to be pliable and roll up but not more as they will continue to cook in the oven.

Meanwhile, cook the rice according to directions.  When cooked, add parsley, basil and Boca crumbles.  Heat all the way through.

Prepare the sauce.  Blend the stewed tomatoes with a hand or immersion blender in a medium sauce pan.  Add the two cans of tomato soup, and the brown sugar and heat over medium heat.  When warmed, mix in a 2-3 tablespoons of the sauce with the rice mixture to keep the filling moist.

Put a light layer of the tomato sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13 glass or ceramic baking dish.  Place several spoonfuls of rice mixture in center of cabbage leaf. Roll thickest end over stuffing, tuck up one side and continue rolling.  Tuck in other side.  It’s like wrapping a little package and no toothpicks are required.

Place side by side in baking dish. Make “neatballs” out of extra filling if you like.   Top with more tomato sauce.  You can also cut up some carrots into 2 inch pieces and place around the cabbages in the sauce.

Cover with foil and bake for about 1 1/2 hours or until cabbage is really tender.