I put soy sauce in my tomato dishes.

Does that sound strange? It shouldn't. In the wintertime, when I'm forced to rely on canned tomatoes, my tomato dishes just don't have the same complexity that they do when the farmers market vendors are practically giving away heirlooms the size of my head. There's no substitute for fresh, ripe tomatoes but when they aren't available, soy sauce is an easy way to add some "umph" to any tomato-based dish.

This Meatless Monday dish is a great example of how soy sauce can take a dish from "okay" to "wowie."

Tomato sauce with Eggplant and Tempeh
Yield: 2 servings

1 Chinese eggplant, peeled and cubed
4-6 oz organic 5-grain tempeh, cubed
1 cup crushed canned tomatoes
1 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup whole raw cashews
1/4 cup plain nondairy yogurt
  1. Cook eggplant and tempeh in tomatoes on medium heat until eggplant is tender. 
  2. Add soy sauce, balsamic vinegar and cashews. Cook an additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  3. Remove from heat and stir in nondairy yogurt.
  4. Serve hot with pasta or other grain of your choice. 
P.S. Looking for a recipe I posted in the past but just can't seem to track it down? Use my handy-dandy indexed recipe page to find all your verdant favorites! (Just updated yesterday!)
    You should 'like' The Verdant Life on Facebook


      Vegan Pizza Day Countdown: Side Dishes

      Just one more day before Vegan Pizza Day is here! I'll be whipping up a batch of my favorite pumpkin pizza dough tonight and I just may end up having pizza for breakfast, lunch AND dinner tomorrow. (Did I say that out loud?)

      How will I make my pizzas? Easy. I'll refer back to this week's posts on pizza crusts, sauces, toppings and methods to make my selections! But a girl can't subsist on pizza alone. (Or can she?) I always like to serve up a little something alongside my pizza to make it more of a complete meal.

       My favorite pizza side dish companions are:
      • Light soups. Miso (with Asian-style pizzas), butternut squash and tomato soup are tops!
      • Salad. A no-brainer. Sometimes I just put the salad on top of the pizza.
      • Any steamed green veggie. Broccoli and asparagus are my faves.
      So, what do you serve as a side dish for a dessert pizza? Easy:

      You should 'like' The Verdant Life on Facebook.


      Vegan Pizza Day Countdown: Methods

      We're getting oh-so-much closer to Vegan Pizza Day and my mouth is watering! Three days of blogging about pizza crusts, sauces and toppings has definitely inspired a fierce pizza hunger deep in my belly. I thought about eating pizza last night  but I decided to delay my gratification until the big day. I've got that much self-restraint.

      The pizza-centric topic for today's post is methods. There is, you know, more than one way to skin a cat bake a pizza.

      In the oven: 
      This is the most common at-home pizza method, no doubt. The temperature setting depends largely on the type of dough (anywhere from 375-450) and the length of time is typically in the 12-15 minute range. The big decision to make when baking pizza in your oven is what to bake the pizza on. Pizza stones, unglazed terracotta tiles (a la Alton Brown) and baking sheets are all good options. Stones and tiles really require the ownership of a good pizza peel and since I don't have one, I've always used a baking sheet or just slapped the pizza straight on the oven rack. 

      On the stovetop:
      Recently, in a fit of impatience, I discovered that I could successfully bake a pizza on my stovetop. I used my trusty cast iron skillet (and lid). How did I pull it off? Read the original post for the deets.

      On a grill: 
      I must confess that I've never actually cooked pizza on a grill but I've seen it done (and consumed the delicious results) may times. Ashley & Stephen have a terrified post on Grilled Pizza Basics and their Pumpkin Pizza Dough is a perfect match for this method. You can also find books on the subject like Pizza: Grill It, Bake It, Love It!.

      Pizza: Grill It, Bake It, Love It!

      Over an open fire: 
      I've had good success making pizza while car camping. Camping + pizza + toasted vegan marshmallows = complete heaven, if you ask me. There are two ways of accomplishing this seemingly impossible feat:
      1. Use a grill grate.
      2. Bring a cast iron skillet.

      Whichever method you choose, there is one important key to success when baking pizza over an open fire. That is, simply, don't use the open fire! Instead, rake some super hot coals to the side and place your pizza-making-apparatus over those. This is a good rule when cooking anything over a fire but the last thing you want is the bottom of your crust to be burned while the top is still doughy! Pizza fail!

      You should 'like' The Verdant Life on Facebook.


      Vegan Pizza Day Countdown: Toppings

      My Vegan Pizza Day countdown (this Saturday!) continues today with a very serious discussion on toppings. We've already covered Pizza Crust and the wide world of Sauces, and we're moving right along as the big day draws near!

      Perhaps more than any other element of pizza construction, the debate over toppings ventures outside the realm of mere preference and is more akin to religious conviction than dietary decision. If you've ever argued with your significant other about whether or not to include mushrooms on your pie, you know what I'm talking about.

      Traditional Italian pizzamakers say that a pizza should have no more than three toppings and I tend to agree. Any more and you run the risk of muddling your flavor profiles. (Did you hear that? I almost sounded like a fancy chef!)

      So, what should you put on your homemade vegan pizza? The short answer: Anything you want. But given the three-topping limit, make your decisions wisely. I've put together some suggestions to help make your selection process easier.

      When pizza is dinner, these are my favorite topping combinations:
      • Baked tofu, red onion and baby spinach
      • Broccoli, crumbled 5-grain tempeh and black olives
      • Shiitake mushrooms, dried tomato slices and asparagus
      • Red bell peppers, black olives and zucchini
      What about breakfast? Pizza is the breakfast of champions, right? Well, it could be! Here are some great breakfast pizza ideas:
      • Strawberry puree (or jam) and sliced mangoes
      • Apricot jam and sliced pears
      • Apple butter, apple slices and cinnamon sugar 

      How about dessert?
      I'm a big fan of fruit for dessert, so any of the breakfast pizzas would translate well. If you like them a little sweeter, just drizzle some agave nectar or maple syrup on top. If fruit just doesn't fit the bill, try one of these dessert pizza ideas: 
      • Chocolate sauce with crumbled graham crackers and vegan marshmallows
      • Vegan cream cheese with caramel sauce and broken ginger snaps
      You should 'like' The Verdant Life on Facebook.


      Vegan Pizza Day Countdown: Sauces

      Yesterday, I shared my favorite pizza crust recipes as well as some tips for changing it up a bit. Now that I've covered the foundation of all great vegan pizzas, it's time to move up a level and investigate sauces!

      Everyone knows traditional pizza sauce is made from tomatoes, basil and olive oil. But the times, they are a'changin' and pizza is no exception. Pesto and alfredo have become popular alternatives but there are no limits to the imagination when it comes to picking a pizza sauce.

      Consider these vegan options:
      What's your favorite pizza sauce?

      You should "like" The Verdant Life on Facebook.


      Vegan Pizza Day Countdown: Pizza Crusts

      In anticipation of Vegan Pizza Day on Saturday, January 29, 2011, I made a quick decision to spend an entire week posting about pizza. Pizza is easily the most ubiquitous and versatile dish we know so I could probably write about pizza for a month without running out of topics. But I won't. Instead, I'll spend one day focused on each pizza component, counting down to the big day.

      Today is all about crusts.

      As you know, I'm an advocate of homemade pizza dough. It's easy, cheap and totally customizable to your tastes.

      My favorite two pizza dough recipes:
      • (never home)maker's Pumpkin Pizza Dough. This is a great all-purpose dough for pizzas and calzones. It keeps for days so it's a great make-ahead option.
      • My Perfect Pizza Dough. A solid stand-by, this recipe is as traditional as it gets.
      Not into making dough from scratch? Pizza crust alternatives are plentiful:
      • Tortillas & naan
      • Flatbread & pitas
      • Baguettes & French bread
      • Puff Pastry
      • English Muffins & bagels

      Tired of ordinary pizza crust? Whether you start with homemade dough or one of the alternatives listed above, try spicing it up a bit:
      • Fold in fresh minced garlic to homemade dough. 
      • Sprinkle smoked paprika on the whole crust or just the edges.
      • Try using chickpea flour in homemade dough.
      • Drizzle dough with infused oils, like garlic or truffle.
      • Add cocoa powder and sweetener to make a dessert pizza.
      One more tip: If your dough gets dry while baking, put 1/2 cup water in an oven-proof ramekin in the oven while your pizza is baking.

      No matter what you select as your pizza base, you're just getting started. Tomorrow, we'll talk sauce!


      Fancy Fritater Frittata

      Ok, so I'll admit my alliteration leaves something to be desired but this dish doesn't. This baked frittata stars potatoes and tofu and is the perfect showing-off-at-brunch entree or breakfast-for-dinner-again meal. Plus, this recipe comes together in a snap and spends most of its prep time in the oven, which frees you up to do, well, whatever you want!

      Fancy Fritater Frittata 
      Yield: 4-6 servings

      1 tsp canola oil
      1lb Idaho gold potatoes
      2 cloves garlic, minced
      1 lb firm or extra-firm tofu
      1 Tbsp soy sauce
      1/4 tsp turmeric
      1/4 tsp ground cumin
      1/2 tsp chopped rosemary
      1 tsp dried thyme
      1/4 cup nutritional yeast
      1/4 tsp salt
      freshly ground black pepper, to taste
      1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly grease an 8-inch pie plate and set aside.
      2. Grate potatoes (with skins) and press with a towel until mostly dry. Sautee with garlic in oil over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat.
      3. Drain and crumble tofu. Toss with remaining ingredients. Add potatoes and stir to combine.
      4. Press mixture into pie plate and bake for 20 minutes, until the frittata is firm and lightly browned. 
      5. Cool 3-4 minutes, then invert onto a serving plate, slice into wedges, and serve. 
        Serving tip: For an extra impressive punch of flavor and eye appeal, top each wedge with a dollop of vegan sour cream or even a garlic cream sauce and garnish with fresh dill.


        Are you into backpacking and hiking?

        This is a little off-topic from my norm but what the hey! Even if you've been reading the blog for a long time, you may not know that I'm an avid hiker and backpacker. The topic rarely (ok, never) comes up when I'm in the kitchen at home so naturally it's also been absent from my blog babblings. Nevertheless, it's the truth. So, there's one thing you learned today.

        Why am I telling you this? Not because I'm venturing into the realm of trail food (well, not todaaaay at least) but because I just have to brag about my friend Sarah of TrailCooking.com and her article in this month's issue of BACKPACKER magazine. You can read Sarah's blog post about it here. I had a hefty hand in the preparation for the article, along with a few faithful volunteers. Sarah and I worked together for weeks testing various outdoor cooking pots, pans and gadgets and we did it all for science. Or rather, to help BACKPACKER readers make better decisions about how to spend their hard-earned gear money this year.

        Little known fact: Sarah and I actually met on the Backpacker.com discussion forums and she hiked with me on my first visit to Rainier when I moved to Washington state, oh so many years ago.

        If you're able to check out the article (pages 52-53 in the March 2011 issue!), I'd love to hear your thoughts!


        Sesame Lime Salad with Tofu Shreds

        This is what tofu looks like when it's masquerading as noodles. Pretty convincing, eh?

        In most Asian markets, you'll find tofu noodles in the refrigerated section with the regular tofu. "Tofu sheets" (pictured above left) are akin to fettuccine while the "tofu shred" (right) is more like spaghetti. Both make great additions to stir-fry and soups or, as in today's recipe, tossed into a healthy salad.

        "Tofu sheet" replaces fettuccine noodles.
        "Tofu shred" mimics spaghetti.
        Sesame Lime Salad with Tofu Shreds
        Yield: 2 servings

        1/2 pkg (4oz) tofu shreds
        1/2 red bell pepper, sliced thinly

        1 Tbsp sesame oil
        juice of one lime (approx 2 Tbsp)
        1/4 tsp fresh grated ginger 
        1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
        1/4 tsp sea salt
        2 tsp sesame seeds
        1. Toss to combine all ingredients except sesame seeds.
        2. Serve garnished with sesame seeds.
        This simple salad is so light and refreshing anytime. It can be served cold, room temperature or even slightly warm depending on your mood. Because it keeps well, it also makes an excellent work day lunch.

        You should 'like' The Verdant Life on Facebook.


        Baked Zucchini and Carrot Fritters

        Who doesn't love a good fritter? Tender on the inside, crispy on the outside, sweet or savory, they're the perfect side dish. Fritters are usually fried which automatically makes them a no-no if you're being mindful of your health. The easiest way to "health up" a fried food is to find a baked alternative. I've recently done this with donuts (see here and here) and now I've applied the same thinking to this savory brunch time side dish. These baked fritters allow you to feel like you're indulging without actually being bad!

        Zucchini and Carrot Fritters 
        Yield: 16 fritters

        1 medium zucchini
        1/4 medium onion
        1/2 tsp dried thyme
        4 Tbsp whole wheat flour

        2 medium carrots
        1/4 medium onion
        1/4 tsp ground ginger
        3 Tbsp whole wheat flour

        1 Ener-g or other egg replacer
        1 tsp baking powder
        salt & pepper to taste
        1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
        2. Grate zucchini, carrot and onion separately. Press with towels until mostly dry.
        3. Divide onion in half and combine in separate bowls with zucchini and carrots.
        4. Add flour to each mixture and toss to combine.
        5. Whisk together the remaining ingredients. Divide equally between the zucchini and carrot mixtures.
        6. Drop by spoonfuls onto greased baking sheet. Press with a spoon or measuring cup to flatten into 3-inch circles.
        7. Bake 15 minutes, flip, then bake an additional 5-7 minutes until golden brown.
        Serve warm alongside your favorite brunch entree, like these tofu omelets from Vegan Brunch!

        You should 'like' The Verdant Life on Facebook.


        I'm famous! (I wish!)

        Check me out! Meatless Monday is featuring two of my recipes this week. Yep, that's right, I said TWO. They typically don't pick more than one dish from the same person so I'm honored to have two in the spotlight. I'm totally blushing, even though you can't see it.

        First up, my Sweet Potato Pierogi are the lunch pick:

        Secondly, my Tempeh & Tomatoes in Pomegranate Sauce is their dinnertime star:

        They selected these two recipes because they are not only meatless and delicious but also because they are seasonal. I aim to please!

        Check out this Monday's menu, plus click on their Favorite Recipes archive for more meatless inspiration. 


        Chocolate-chocolate-chocolate donuts


        Ladies and gentleman, I have gone mad. Yes, that's right. I, the girl who doesn't really care for sweets, am posting not one but TWO donut recipes this week. After my baked apple donut post, I received e-mails from a few folks demanding to see some chocolate. I had already developed a chocolate donut recipe and talked about it on the Facebook page, but nobody had seen the recipe. Yet!

        These dense, cakey donuts are virtually fat-free so they're a totally guilt-less breakfast and dessert in one. 

        Chocolate-Chocolate Donuts with Dark Chocolate Ganache
        Yield: 8 donuts

        1 cup almond milk
        1 tsp lemon juice
        1 tsp vanilla extract
        1 tsp vegan chocolate sauce or extract
        2 Tbsp agave nectar
        1/4 cup light brown sugar
        2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
        1/4 cup cocoa powder
        1/2 tsp salt
        1/2 tsp baking powder
        1/2 tsp baking soda
        1/4 cup vegan chocolate chips, crushed in a food processor

        1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips
        3-4 Tbsp vanilla almond milk
        1/2 tsp vanilla extract
        1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray donut pan lightly with oil and set aside.
        2. Whisk together wet ingredients (including brown sugar) until foamy.
        3. Combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl, then add the wet mixture and fold in.
        4. Spoon into donut pan, filling each donut cup almost to the top and bake 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. 
        5. While the donuts are baking, melt chocolate in the microwave or in a small saucepan.
        6. Add almond milk 1 Tbsp at a time, stirring to combine until you reach the consistency of pancake batter.
        7. Stir in vanilla extract.
        8. When donuts are cool enough to handle, dip one side in the chocolate ganache and place them on a cooling rack.
        These donuts will keep in the refrigerator for 4 days but they probably won't last that long!


        Smoky Tomato Barley Stew

        Cold winter days beg for hearty stews, but what I miss most right now is the flavors of summer. Like barbeque. And tomatoes. And barley. Well, maybe not that last one. But to be sure, this stew is easy to make, totally satisfying and absolutely reminiscent of summertime BBQ parties. Don't let the lengthy list of herbs and spices intimidate you; they work together to make this stew stand out.

        Smoky Tomato Barley Stew
        Yield: 4-6 servings

        1 tsp olive oil
        1 cup chopped onion
        1 tsp ground cumin
        1 tsp liquid smoke
        1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
        3 cloves garlic, minced
        2 tsp dried oregano
        1 tsp dried thyme
        1 tsp smoked paprika
        1 tsp rubbed sage
        2 cups crushed tomatoes (canned is ok, juice included)
        2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
        1-2 cups water
        1 15-oz can cannelini beans
        1/2 cup pearl barley
        1 Tbsp molasses

        In a large stockpot, sautee onion in olive oil until translucent. Add herbs and spices and stir for 1 minute. Add all other ingredients and bring the stew to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and stir occasionally until barley is tender, about 20-25 minutes. Serve with a dollop of plain soy yogurt and your favorite soup crackers!


        My favorite food blogs

        One day, I'll get organized enough to add a blogroll to my site. In the meantime, I thought you might like to check out my Top 10 favorite food bloggers. Some sites are chok full of vegan recipes; others focus on product reviews. Some of the sites I read on a regular basis aren't vegan at all! They all have common ground, though: these folks are passionate about delicious food. Dig in!

        10. Zoe Bakes: (Not vegan.) Zoe Francois is one half of the brilliant duo behind Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and she's also a pastry chef. She makes a lot of things I would never eat, but I get a lot of interesting ideas from her recipes and photos.

        9. Gazing In: (Not 100% vegan but lots of vegan recipes.) Sarah is a personal friend who writes what she calls  "domestic diva ramblings." Sarah is the queen of thrifty, convenient cooking and she does a lot of product reviews. She also writes about trail food and gear at TrailCooking.com and is the author of Freezer Bag Cooking.

        8. The Laziest Vegans in the World: (100% vegan.) I think the name says it all, but I'll explain anyway. This blog is all about vegan convenience foods! Although I don't buy products like that very often, it's great to know what's out there when I'm in a pinch.

        7. Vegan Backpacker: (100% vegan.) Vicarious living through international food porn. They're in Sicily right now and my heart (and stomach!) aches for the motherland!

        6. tahinitoo: (100% vegan.) Written by a Portlander with a penchant for brownies. Amy's working on a vegan brownie cookbook (and posting lots of brownie porn to prove it!) but also writes about her hiking and snowshoeing adventures, which I love to gawk over now that I don't live as close to the mountains. 

        5. Vegan Crunk. (100% vegan.) Bianca lives and eats in Memphis, and is proud of it! She writes about vegan food finds, animal activism, and her upcoming cookbook of vegan Southern-style recipes.

        4. Inspired Eats: (100% vegan.) Craig is the genius behind the vegan butterflake roll recipe that I would marry (if a girl could marry a recipe). His recipes are based on simple, fresh ingredients and interesting flavor combos (like cranberry salsa). Nom.

        3. The Kitchn: (Not 100% vegan.) They're having a vegan week right now, but I read the blog regularly for tips on technique, tools, and food news. Lots of awesome kitchen/organizing porn as well.

        2. (neverhome)maker: (Not 100% vegan but lots of vegan recipes.) Ashley & Stephen are crazy about food and fitness, and occasionally design. You probably already know I'm in love with their pumpkin pizza dough, but I also make some of Ashley's smoothies on a regular basis.

        1. Bittersweet. (100% vegan.) Hannah Kaminsky is not only an amazing chef but also a stellar photographer. Her recipes never fail which is quite nice when someone who isn't good at dessert (me) wants to make something sweet and delicious. (I'm making her coconut kefir cheesecake later this week.)

        So, there it is, folks! I read a ton of food blogs on a regular basis, but these folks are my favorites. Enjoy!


        Vegan Apple Donuts at Your House!

        If you're familiar with my love affair with bread and all things carby, it'll be no surprise to learn that I have a thing for donuts as well. Vegan donuts are hard to come by and not exactly healthy, so when I discovered that some people are being all crazy radical and baking their own donuts, I had to give it a try. Baked donuts are easy to make, lower in fat than their fried cousins and you don't have to put your shoes on to get them. Win-win-win!

        This recipe does require a piece of specialty equipment: a nonstick donut pan. It's the one and only uni-tasker I'm allowing in my kitchen, because I wouldn't be able to achieve these delicious results live without it. Expect more donut recipes down the road because this pan is going to get a workout in my kitchen!

        These donuts are light and fluffy with a texture more similar to cake than to regular yeast donuts. Don't let the difference in texture scare you, though! They are still totally delicious.

        Baked Apple Donuts
        Yield: 6 regular donuts or 12 mini donuts

        1 medium apple (Fuji, Gala, etc), peeled and chopped
        1 tsp ground cinnamon
        2 Tbsp granulated sugar
        1 cup all-purpose flour
        3/4 tsp baking powder
        3/4 tsp baking soda
        1/4 tsp salt
        1 flax egg or other vegan egg replacer
        3/4 cup non-dairy yogurt (plain, vanilla, or flavor of your choice--strawberry might be fun!)
        1 Tbsp canola oil
        2 tsp lemon juice
        2 Tbsp agave nectar or other sweetener (use less if you used a flavored yogurt)

        Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly spray your donut pan and set aside.

        Toss apples with cinnamon and sugar and set aside.

        In a medium bowl, combine flour and other dry ingredients with a whisk. In a small bowl, combine remaining ingredients thoroughly, then add the wet to the dry. Fold in gently until no dry spots remain. The resulting batter should be light, airy and pretty darn easy to work with.

        Divide your chopped apples among the donut cups, adding as much or as little as you like. I like a lot of fruit, so I filled the cups about 1/3 full. Divide the batter among the cups on top of the apple, pressing down and shaping a bit with your fingers. The donut cups should be full and you should have exactly enough dough to make 6 regular donuts or 12 mini donuts.

        Bake 9-10 minutes until the tops are golden brown. Allow to cool 1 minute in the pan before inverting onto a wire rack. If you're sugar-crazed, you can sprinkle the tops with vegan powdered sugar but these babies are sweet enough due to all that fruit. Perfect with your morning cuppa!


        Stovetop Salad Pizza

        Happy Meatless Monday! Perhaps riding on a high from my news of the first-ever upcoming Vegan Pizza Day, I wanted to make pizza for lunch over the weekend. I had pizza dough in the fridge; I'm addicted to Ashley & Stephen's pumpkin pizza dough, which keeps for a week, making it perfect for these pizza-on-a-whim occasions.

        I make pizza frequently so I'm no stranger to the process. But, you see, my oven takes a long time to reach perfect pizza temps, and I was feeling a bit impatient about my craving. Ashley & Stephen developed this pumpkin dough to make grilled pizzas, so I started thinking of other methods. It wasn't long before the idea of stovetop pizza in my cast iron skillet danced into my mind and seduced me with its convenience and speed!

        This one was a sauce-less salad pizza, but any toppings you choose will work just fine!

        Stovetop Salad Pizza
        Yield: 1 single serving pizza

        1 fist-sized ball of pizza dough
        Seasoning of your choice (I used 1 tsp Trader Joe's 21 Season Salute)
        1 cup mixed veggies (I used red bell peppers, zucchini and mushrooms)
        1 cup mixed greens tossed with 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

        Preheat your cast iron skillet on the stovetop over medium-high heat. I gave mine a spritz of canola oil, but you could do without if you prefer.

        Using your hands, pat out your dough into a 7-8 inch circle. Once the skillet is hot, place the dough in the center. Sprinkle with seasoning and layer on your veggies, but reserve the greens. Cover the skillet for 5-7 minutes or until the dough is baked thoroughly. Using a lid on your skillet simulates an oven environment and will ensure that your dough cooks through, not just on the bottom.

        Remove from the skillet and plate. Pile greens on top and cut into quarters. Chow down!


        Sweet Potato Pierogi

        It's no secret that I have a serious thing for stuffed pasta. From store-bought vegan ravioli to pair with my own sauce or lasagna or handmade ravioli stuffed with tofu ricotta, I just can't get enough. So here's one more way to enjoy pasta stuffed with something yummy: pierogi!

        Sweet Potato Pierogi
        Yield: 8 pcs (about 4 servings)

        2 cups flour (your choice)
        1/2 tsp salt
        3 Tbsp olive oil
        1/2 cup water

        1 large sweet potato (I used a garnet yam), peeled and diced
        1/2 tsp salt
        1 tsp olive oil
        1/4 medium yellow onion, diced
        1 clove garlic, minced
        1/4 tsp Chinese 5 spice powder
        1/4 tsp sea salt (for sprinkling)

        First, make the dough. Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl until a dense dough forms. Set aside while you prepare the filling, at least 15 minutes.

        For the filling, place diced sweet potato, salt in a quart of water and bring to a boil.

        While your potatoes cook, heat 1 tsp olive oil on low heat in a medium skillet. Add onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and 5 spice powder and cook an additional 2 minutes and then remove from heat.

        When the potatoes are done (can be pierced easily with a fork), drain them well and add them to the pan with the onions. Using a potato masher or a large fork, mash the potatoes and combine them thoroughly with the onion mixture. Set the filling aside to cool while you prepare the dough.

        Fill your potato pot back up with water and bring to a boil. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. Roll out into 1/4-inch thick circles. They don't have to be perfect geometrical specimens, but make them as round as you can. Fill each circle with a tablespoon of mashed potato filling, fold in half, and crimp the edges with a fork, squeezing out any excess air as you go. Gently lower your filled pierogi into the boiling water using a slotted spoon. I recommend boiling them in two batches, four at a time, to prevent breakage. When the pierogi float to the surface, they are done (about 4 minutes). Use your slotted spoon to remove them carefully from the boiling water and transfer to a plate to drain slightly.

        You can serve the pierogi now, sprinkled with salt, but I like to go just one step further.

        Heat 1 Tbsp canola oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Toss in boiled pierogi and cook for 1-2 minutes on each side, just enough to get a little char on them. This step adds dimension to the flavor of the dough and although it's an optional step, I just can't skip it. Sprinkle with salt and serve hot hot hot alongside caramelized onions!

        Time Saver Tip: Use 3/4 cup canned sweet potato (or pumpkin) puree instead of a fresh sweet potato. Add directly to your cooked onion mixture and follow the remaining steps.


        Vegan Pizza Day is coming January 29!

        This is just a brief message, brought to you entirely by my love for pizza. I make pizza at home A LOT and you should too. Whether you're a gourmet pizza maker or a total noob, you need to get yourself some vegan pizza in your belly on January 29, 2011, because it's the first-ever Vegan Pizza Day! Help convince the world that vegan pizza is awesomely delicious by baking some up yourself or taking some of your omnivorous friends out for vegan pizza at a pizzeria near you.

        A recent pizza from my oven, via cell phone pic

        P.S. If you need some assistance on making your own pizza at home, check out my pizza recipes and Ashley & Stephen's awesome never-fail pumpkin pizza dough.


        Biscuits in the morning, biscuits in the evening...

        When I'm feeling ambitious at brunch-time, I like to make biscuits. I usually make my easy vegan drop biscuits which come together in just a few minutes. They're really tasty but they're just not the same as flaky rolled biscuits. A girl needs a little variety in life.

        Last weekend, I finally perfected a vegan recipe for rolled biscuits. I used a cute 2-1/2 inch heart shaped cookie cutter for these but you can use a round biscuit cutter (up to 3 inches) or an inverted juice glass instead.

        Rolled Biscuits
        Yield: 6-7 biscuits

        1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
        1 tsp baking powder
        2 Tbsp Earth Balance or other vegan margarine
        1/2 tsp salt
        1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp plain almond milk (or other nondairy milk)

        Preheat oven to 400°F.

        Sift flour in a bowl, then measure 1 cup. Add baking powder and salt, then sift together.

        Cut in Earth Balance using a pastry cutter or a large fork. Once the mixture reaches a crumbly consistency, I like to use my hands to work the margarine into even smaller pieces.

        Add milk gradually until a soft dough forms. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 30 seconds.

        Roll out until dough is 1/2 inch thick. Cut out your biscuits and transfer to an ungreased baking sheet. I usually take the scraps and mold them together into one really ugly leftover biscuit so none of the dough goes to waste. Bake 14-16 minutes until the tops are golden brown.

        Split open, slather with jam, gravy, nut butter or your condiment of choice, and dig in!


        What's Fresh: Peanuts

        In January, it's difficult to get excited about produce. So, I'm not. Instead, this month I'm focusing on something that most people (including me) totally take for granted: peanuts! Unless you're a nut farmer, it's easy to forget that they have seasons just like veggies and fruit. But wait! Peanuts aren't even nuts. They're a legume. Did you know that?

        Peanuts have been around forever (or 7,600 years) and they've become a ubiquitous part of American life, for sure. We've got boiled peanuts in the South, roasted peanuts everywhere else, peanuts on a plane, PB&J, Snickers bars, peanut brittle, peanut butter cups, even fried peanuts--and don't even get me started on peanut oil!

        Chances are, you've got a tin of dry roasted peanuts in the back of your pantry already so dig it out and try a new use for these old beans:

        Raw Vegan Peanut Butter Cups by Renegade Health Show
        Indian-style Peanut Rice on allrecipes.com
        Serundeng (Indonesian Roasted Spiced Peanuts with Coconut) on food.com
        Peanut Butter Krispy Bars by Celine Steen
        Sweet Potato & Garnet Yam in Ginger & Peanut Sauce by yours truly

        Do you ever wonder how to find out what's in season? There are tons of lists on the web, but I like to use Epicurious's Peak-Season Map which allows you to select the month and your home state to find out what's in harvest.


        Sorbet: Cure for your winter blues

        For the past week, it's been pretty cold outside and thanks to some heavy winter precipitation, it was white as far as the eye could see for a few days there. Sometimes, cold days like these have me craving big bowls of thick soups and stews along with endless cups of tea and cocoa. This week, I succumbed to a different kind of craving: sorbet.

        In the summertime, I make my own using fresh fruits from the farmers markets (and sometimes little else). I always miss those summer fruits come January and the craving is a fierce pain in my soul. Ok, I'm being a bit dramatic. But I do love me some juicy fruit flavors so I was stoked to find satisfaction in my grocery store freezer. I picked up a single-serving cup of Blood Orange Sorbet by Ciao Bella. The 3.5 oz cup (with teensy plastic spoon included!) cost me just $2 and I'm happy to report that is the price of freedom from your dead winter blues. Ciao Bella's sorbet is completely vegan and doesn't contain icky corn syrups or artificial flavors. This treat is also fat free and just 70 calories. How d'ya like that? Their sorbet is pure, fresh, and tastes just like summer; a perfect pick-me-up for the winter doldrums!

        If blood oranges aren't your thing, they have a ton of other tasty flavors. Unfortunately, their gelato isn't vegan but the sorbet line is amazing and all the flavors in my local store are vegan. Green Apple, Grapefruit Campari or Strawberry Merlot, anyone?

        P.S. A disclaimer. Although I do sometimes receive products to test, Ciao Bella didn't ask me to review their sorbet. I stumbled upon it all by myself. 


        Tempeh & Tomatoes in Pomegranate Sauce

        Hey, it's my first post in 2011! Aaaaand today's the first Meatless Monday of 2011! If you're not vegan or vegetarian, this is a perfect time to commit to a small change in your eating habits that will make a positive impact on your health and the health of our earth.

        The inspiration for this meal came in an accidental way which, if you ask me, is the best kind of way. I reorganized my pantry the other day and found a bottle of pomegranate molasses. Score! It's such a unique ingredient that it doesn't get a lot of use and tends to get pushed to the back of the shelf, hidden behind the soy sauce and the agave nectar. I decided I ought to show this dusty little bottle some love, and let it shine in a simple recipe that would remind me how much I love the stuff--as if I could ever forget!

        Tempeh & Tomatoes in Pomegranate Sauce
        Yield: 2 servings

        1 Tbsp olive oil
        1/2 medium yellow onion, sliced 
        6oz tempeh, cubed (I used an organic 5 grain version)
        1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
        1/2 cup tomato sauce (or chopped roma tomatoes)
        1 Tbsp pomegranate molasses
        1 Tbsp soy sauce
        1 Tbsp peanut butter
        2 Tbsp maple syrup
        1/2 cup water

        In a medium skillet on low heat, cook the onions in olive oil until translucent, about 5 minutes. Turn up the heat slightly to put just a little color on the onions, about 2 minutes. Add tempeh and tomatoes, stir to coat in oil and cook an additional 4-5 minutes until the tempeh begins to brown. Add remaining ingredients, reduce heat to low, and stir gently to melt the peanut butter and combine everything thoroughly. Cook 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally, and add more water if necessary. Serve atop brown rice, quinoa, tortillas, or, in my case, some Garlic and Roasted Veggies Ravioli from Rising Moon Organics (yep, they're vegan!).

        Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
        myfreecopyright.com registered & protected

        © 2009-2013 Cat DiStasio
        All content on this site is copyrighted. Want to republish something you've seen here? Just ask! Email cat@theverdantlife.com

          © Template from Ourblogtemplates.com

        Back to TOP