Sunday, April 13, 2014

Vegan Cincinnati Chili

The last time I had Cincinnati Chili from Skyline would have been when I still ate meat, and that's coming up on 12 years. My husband went to the University of Cincinnati, and we've taken several trips there to visit his friends and see the city. The first time I tried Skyline I was in love, and the memory of that sweet-ish chili served over spaghetti and topped with cheddar cheese still looms large in my mind. (And yes, I tried the vegetarian versio at Skyline after I became's just not the same.)

You can, of course, get Skyline Chili at the grocery store now in either a frozen container or a can (ewww...meat in a can!). When my husband bought some last week, I decided to try to make a vegan version.

While I was very tempted to try a version I found that uses lentils--because everything is better with lentils!--I decide to make a more "authentic" version using vegan crumbles (yes, it is processed and bad for me, but I wanted to be as close to bad as the original!) I used this recipe from

First I sauteed chopped onion in olive oil then added minced garlic and the veggie crumbles.
Next I added a can of tomato sauce (a deviation from the recipe, which called for one cup each of tomato sauce and water...why wouldn't I use all tomato sauce?), diced tomatoes (another deviation; I used just one cup), red wine vinegar, and the spice mixture, which includes cinnamon, brown sugar, and cocoa powder. I also did not use the hot sauce, since the only kind I have is Sriracha, which would be too hot for this recipe, or the kidney beans, since I don't remember beans in the original version.

I let it simmer for 20 minutes then served it over whole-grain spaghetti and topped it with Daiya cheddar cheese shreds.
While Daiya mozzarella cheese on pizza is great, I'm not a huge fan of fake cheese in general except for ones I make from scratch, and I don't totally love the Daiya cheddar flavor. I liked the parts without the cheese best, so next time I'll leave the cheese off.

Aside from the cheese...this was fantastic! I really loved it. I paired it with a salad of organic sweet baby lettuces and Santuary Dressing (ranch-style dressing) that I made from Appetite for Reduction. It was a great combination.

I asked my husband to try the chili and was curious to see what he thought since he just had Skyline a few days ago (albeit from a can...ewww!) His response: "It's pretty good!" That is high praise in his book, so there you have it. This recipe is a great substitute for the real Cincinnati Chili.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Mint Chocolate Cupcakes

To celebrate running a good race in the JASR 5K yesterday, I made Mint Chocolate Cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. They're my favorite!

The cupcake is the basic chocolate cupcake batter with 1 teaspoon of mint extract mixed in. I tried a plain cupcake and it was heavenly--extremely moist and just melted in my mouth.

The frosting also has mint extract, with some green food coloring mixed in. You add a spiral of frosting to the cupcake.

Last, I made the quick melty ganache and spooned it on top.
I'd just spooned the ganache on here, but it hardens once you put them in the fridge to set. So delicious--the perfect race celebration treat!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Vegan Blondies

Recently I finished my freezer stash of my leftover Christmas cookies. So while at Whole Foods last week, I picked up a vegan cookie and considered buying it. But it was not soft and not very appealing, plus was $1.69. I knew I could cook up a whole batch of cookies for less than, so I broke out Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar and made the blondies.

Oh my! They are absolutely delicious. They have the taste of a great chocolate chip cookie with the ooey-gooey goodness of a brownie. You can get the recipe here.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Vegan Love for Burgatory

This was my second time at Burgatory, and I loved it just as much as the first time. You'd think a burger restaurant wouldn't be a good vegan restaurant option, and granted there is only one vegan option on the menu. But it's so good, it's enough.

We started with the Hole 'Mole as an appetizer, which was a substantial bowl of house-made guacamole with a nice kick and tortilla chips. I got the Herb's Grape Refresher as a cocktail, which was a delicious and refreshing blend of vodka, grapes, and basil.

The Phat Patti's Veggie Burger is made with mushrooms, lentils, cashews, and cracked wheat. It comes on a whole-wheat bun with arugula, tomato, and guacamole. I swapped the cheese it came with for vegan cheddar cheese. The burger is huge, very filling (I ate less than half), and extremely delicious. Because the house-made chips are cooked in the same oil as chicken (thanks to the bartender for letting me know!) I got a mixed green salad as a side that came with an absolutely delicious house-made red wine vinaigrette dressing.

Another option would be to start with the veggie burger and customize it with different toppings. There are a number of good vegan options.

I drooled over the milkshakes on the menu (Caramel Pretzel! Coffee and Donuts!), but even if they were vegan I wouldn't have gotten one. They must be a million calories. No thanks.

As far as vegan veggie burgers go in Pittsburgh, Burgatory has one of if not the best. (I also love the one at Brillobox...I'll need to try theirs again to compare.)

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Vegan Baked Mini Donuts

I made mini baked donuts to take to a meeting at work this week. They were a hit! The recipe is from Vegan Yum Yum and is pretty easy to make. You do need to buy egg replacer, but all the other ingredients are pretty basic. You just mix the batter, spoon into a pan, and bake for 12 minutes. I made the chocolate iced ones once before. This time I tried the glazed too. The glazed is my new favorite! You can find the recipe over at the Vegan Yum Yum blog.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Smoky Split Pea Soup

This weekend I tried the Smoky Split Pea Soup from Appetite for Reduction. It was easy to make, thick, and very hearty. The flavor--made smoky by lots of smoked paprika--was good but not to die over.

I'd probably make it again. It's a good, low-fat, simple soup to have in my soup arsenal and is great for lunch in winter...but I wouldn't break it out for guests.

I like my legumes to be extremely soft and not hard at all so I cooked it for 50 minutes instead of the recommended 40 minutes. Even then, some of the split peas were a little firm, so I'd add more water and cook for at least an hour next time. I used bullion cubes to make the vegetable broth. Between that and the additional salt, this was really salty. I like that, but if you don't, use less salt or don't use bullion cubes.

Smoky Split Pea Soup
Serves 6
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 medium-sized onion, diced small
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Several pinches of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 cups diced carrots
  • 1 1/4 cups dried split peas
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, or to taste (I didn't use this)

  1. Preheat soup pot over medium-high heat. Saute the onions in the oil until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. 
  2. Add the garlic, pepper, and salt; saute for another minute. 
  3. Add the paprika and thyme, stirring continuously for about 15 seconds to toast the spices.
  4. Add the carrots, split peas, and broth. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for 40-60 minutes, until split peas are soft enough for you. If necessary, thin the soup with water. Stir occasionally to prevent the soup from burning at the bottom.
  5. Add lemon juice if using. Let set for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Lentil Tomato Soup

This soup saw me through the polar vortex. It's hearty, comforting, and has just enough Indian spices make the flavor really interesting without being overwhelming. This is definitely one of my favorite soup recipes, and it's easy to make with just a few ingredients. I used split red lentils, but if you use regular lentils you'll want to cook it longer and possibly puree some or all of it to get the creaminess of the red lentils.

Lentil-Tomato Soup
Adapted from a very old Cooking Light magazine; I ripped out the recipe and don't know the date but probably circa 2000.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (add or subtract to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 1/3 cup dried split red lentils
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
  • 6 cups veg broth
  • 3 cups water (use more or less water for desired consistency)
  • 1 28-oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • Chopped fresh tomatoes (optional)
  • Cilantro sprig (optional)

  1. Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. 
  2. Add the onion; saute for 5 minutes or until tender. 
  3. Add the turmeric and the next 6 ingredients (turmeric through garlic); saute for 1 minute. 
  4. Add lentils and next 4 ingredients (lentils through tomatoes); bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20-30 minutes until lentils are very soft and soup is thick and creamy. If you want it creamier, puree some or all of the soup.
  5. Garnish with chopped tomatoes and a cilantro sprig if you want to be fancy pants about it.