Sunday, August 10, 2014

Corn Fritters

The Corn Fritters recipe from Vegan Yum Yum has been begging me to make it since I got the book. With sweet summer corn in season, now seemed like a great time to try it. I'm glad I did. I really liked them.

The recipe was very simple and easy to make. While it called for frying these in 1-2 tablespoons of oil, I found that cooking spray and a nonstick pan worked just as well.

The taste was a mix of cornbread (thanks to the cornmeal), a touch of seasoning (thanks to Old Bay), and sweet, fresh corn. My omni husband really liked these too. I ate some plain and some with a small dollop of ketchup.

I had these with a salad of organic greens and the Sanctuary Dressing from Appetite for Reduction (a vegan ranch dressing) as a light and refreshing meal. I would definitely make these again as either a light meal or appetizer.

Here's the recipe.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Summer Dinner Party

Last night we had friends over for dinner. It rained all day and drizzled most of the night, so we couldn't eat outside. Other than that it was a fun night, and all the food was great.

Because I had a race in the morning and knew I wouldn't have a ton of time to prepare, I decided on a simple pasta dish as the main course and then added Italian-themed food to round out the pasta.


White Bean Spread with Truffle Oil. I made it once before and loved it, and it was just as good this time. I think I let out an "mmmmm!" every time I had a bite. This time I didn't have time to cook the beans, so I just used two cans of beans and then boiled the garlic on their own without the beans. As before, the truffle oil really makes this spread special, so if you decide to make this, splurge and get the truffle oil (I found it at my local grocery store.) I served the spread with crackers. See the recipe I posted a few years ago.

Olives. I don't like olives so just picked out a few different kinds at the Whole Foods olive bar.

Strawberries. A big bowl of sweet, juicy, organic strawberries is always a great appetizer!


Ruby Red Sangria. I made this recipe for Ruby Red Sangria which pairs ruby red grapefruit juice, fresh lime juice, and sugar with red wine.  I added apples, blueberries, and strawberries. This sangria wasn't strong or super sweet. It was actually a little tart. I liked it but drank way too much!


The main meal was Pasta with Tomato Basil Cream Sauce by Vegan Yum Yum (recipe). The sauce is very simple and fresh, and the creaminesss comes from cashews. This sauce is by no means light or low calorie. Between the cashews and the olive oil, it's pretty decadent. But so delicious! I had based this whole meal on getting fresh pasta from Penn Mac in the Strip. When I walked to the Strip to get it, I discovered that the fresh pasta is not vegan but is made with eggs. Darn! I bought the egg fettucine to serve to everyone else and then made myself some whole-wheat spaghetti. It was still delicious!

My friend bought a salad with a lime-oil vingaigrette. She also brought a plate of salad add-ons so that everyone could add what they wanted, which was a great idea. I also had crusty white Italian bread and olive oil and balsamic to dip it in.


The best part, as always! I was super excited to make the vegan Lemon Bars from Veganomicon/Vegan Cookies Take Over Your Cookie Jar (see the recipe at No Meat Athlete). I had never made them before and thought they'd be the perfect summer dessert.

Most vegan desserts I make use basic ingredients, but this one called for agar agar flakes, which are a gelatin substitute. I had to make a trip to Whole Foods to pick up a bag, and they were pricey...but well worth it!

The crust was something like a big sugar cookie. I could have eaten just the crust and been happy!

The filling was made by dissolving the agar agar flakes in boiling water, then adding lemon juice mixed with arrowroot powder (another thickener that I already have in my pantry), sugar, and lemon zest. You whisk it until it thickens then pour it onto the crust and let it refrigerate until it sets.

Absolutely delicious! We all loved it. I'd absolutely make it again...and just might have to so that I can use up those pricey agar agar flakes!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Big Fat Taco Salad

Once the weather heats up, I pretty much only want to eat salads. With the hot and humid temps last week, the Big Fat Taco Salad from Appetite for Reduction hit the spot. You do need to make two other recipes--the Fresh Tomato Salsa Dressing and the Guacamame--but everything comes together pretty quickly, and it makes enough for a week of lunches.

The Guacamame itself is outstanding. It's made with avocado and edamame, which adds protein and makes it more filling plus lower in WeightWatchers points (only 2 points per serving!). I think it tastes nearly identical to regular guacamole, and I make it a lot in place of avocado-only guacamole.

The Fresh Tomato Salsa Dressing is also very good, though if you're tight on time you could likely subsitute a chunky-style salsa.

I found the salad overall to be delicious and filling, and it definitely works as a meal. Omnivores will have no problem substituting the black beans for another protein or adding another protein.

Find the recipes over on the Meatless Monday blog

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad with Grilled Tofu

I wanted a refreshing salad that worked as a meal so recently made the Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad with Grilled Tofu from Appetite for Reduction. Rice noodles are tossed with chopped green beans, sliced cucumber, red onion, chopped mint, and a dressing that features chili garlic sauce and lime juice. Tofu is marinated in the dressing then grilled. A peanut-lime gremolata sprinkled on top adds even more flavor. I found the flavor best after it sat for a day in the fridge. It's 7 Weight Watchers point a serving, and you can find the recipe here. I would have liked a bit more flavor from the dressing; next time I might drizzle with additional chili garlic sauce. Otherwise, it's a refreshing summer salad.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Argentinian Hearts of Palm Salad

I tried a new salad this weekend that's my new favorite. It's a Weight Watchers recipe and is five points a serving. I served this for a Memorial Day cookout with SmartDogs vegan hot dogs, grilled asparagus, and veggie baked beans. This salad is delicious and easy to make, and it will be great to take to potlucks.

Argentinian Hearts of Palm Salad
Serves 4

Recipe from



  • In a serving bowl, combine water, lime juice, oil, salt and pepper; stir in scallions and cilantro.
  • Add hearts of palm, tomatoes and avocado to bowl; gently toss to coat. Yields about 1 1/4 cups per serving.

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.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Arizona Hippie Soup

This is another fabulous soup I first tried at my friend's soup party. Note that she adapted it from the Oh She Glows blog (I'm not sure what the adaptations were). The toppings for it were awesome, but I think the soup is perfect as-is without toppings. I cooked it for a really long time to get all the veggies nice and soft. While I don't usually like sweet potato in soup, the sweet potato in this added just the right amount of sweetness.

Arizona Hippie Soup

Adjusted from:


    • 1 cup uncooked red quinoa, rinsed and drained
    • 1TBS coconut oil
    • 3-6 garlic cloves, minced
    • 2 cup diced sweet onion
    • 1 jalapeno, seeded if preferred and diced
    • 1 large sweet potato peeled and chopped
    • 1.5 tsp ground cumin
    • 1 tsp chili powder
    • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
    • 6 cups vegetable broth
    • 1.5 cups cooked black beans (one (15-oz) can rinsed and drained)
    • fine grain sea salt and black pepper, to taste (
    • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or red pepper flakes) 

Toppings: Spinach, avocado, chips, cilantro, cashews, lime


1. In a medium-sized pot, add quinoa along with 1.5 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and cover with tight fitting lid. Simmer covered for about 17 minutes or until the water is absorbed and quinoa is fluffy. Remove from heat, fluff with fork, and keep it covered until ready to use.

2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large  pot. Add garlic and onion and sauté for a few minutes over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper. Now add in the jalapeno and sweet potato and sauté for 5-7 minutes more.

3. Stir in the cumin, chili powder, coriander, and broth. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 18-20 minutes uncovered, or until the potatoes are tender.

4. Just before serving, stir in the cooked quinoa, drained and rinsed black beans, cayenne. Season with salt and pepper to taste, adding more spice if desired.

5. Garnish soup with Spinach, cilantro, chips, avocado, cashews, lime.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

African Peanut Soup

With the polar vortex and general despair over the bone-chilling weather since the beginning of the year, I've wanted to eat nothing but soup. The first one I made was this African Peanut Soup, which I first tried at my friend Melissa's soup party in December. Since 1993, Melissa and her husband Stephen have been hosting this party. The party was a lot of fun and the soups were all really delicious, but it's the charity component that is the most impressive. Guests are asked to bring a donation for the Greater Pittsburgh
Community Food Bank. This past December they had 262 guests and raised more than $4,000 for the Food Bank!

I'm just getting back to blogging so didn't take pictures, but trust me--this soup is amazing! It's not overly peanuty and doesn't have sweet potatoes that are in a lot of African soups (and which I'm not a huge fan of). It's just really delicious. Here's the recipe, and see my notes at the end.

African Peanut Soup

Serves 8
The recipe was found in the November 1994 issue of Vegetarian Times and is copied from the Big Soup blog. Enjoy.

  • 2 medium onions chopped
  • 2 large red bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 to 3 large garlic cloves, mashed
  • 1 to 2 Tbs. Canola oil
  • 28 oz. can tomatoes with juice, chopped
  • 8 cups vegetable broth (bouillon is best--see notes)
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. Crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup uncooked short-grain rice
  • 2/3 cup smooth peanut butter (non-natural is best--see notes)
  • chopped roasted peanuts
  1. In a large soup pot, sauté onions, bell peppers, and garlic in oil until onions begin to brown around the edges, about 7 minutes.
  2. Add the tomatoes and juice, broth, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Simmer, uncovered, over low heat about 15 minutes.
  3. Add rice, cover, and simmer until rice is tender, about 30 minutes. Add the peanut butter; whisk until smooth. Heat to a simmer and serve immediately, garnished with chopped roasted peanuts.
  1. When I made this, I thought it didn't taste like the soup at the party. I thought Melissa's tasted better. I brought it into work for her to taste, and she confirmed it tasted different. We concluded that it was the difference in the broth and peanut butter. I used store-bought ready-made broth, and Melissa used Knorr vegetarian bouillon cubes. I used a natural style of peanut butter, and Melissa used Jif. If you make this, use bouillon and a non-natural style of peanut butter.
  2. I don't like cooked bell pepper and considered leaving them out. But I liked the soup so much at Melissa's party, I decided to leave one in. I didn't taste the pepper at all (which is good for me.) 
  3. I used long-grain rice, and it was fine.
  4. Melissa's soup was much thicker than mine. She said she let it simmer a lot longer than the recipe calls for, so I'll do that next time.