Category Archives: Condiments

Nori Sesame Dressing

Wow… Spring already? Boy is time flying… and there has been a lot going on at your vegan neighbor’s house lately, which has been making things seem to move along even faster. Most recently, I started working at an awesome little shop downtown. (In fact, it was my first job in town when I moved here 13 years ago!)  It’s great to be back again (despite being away from my kiddos) because I really loved working there and being downtown. I reluctantly let this job go when I got hired to work as the bread baker full-time at the Green Scene Baking Company (a vegan bakery/restaurant), which is no longer in business… not because the food wasn’t great, but because the owner decided to move to California and become a nutritionist! I’m sure all of Athens misses the Green Scene – I know I do!

Anyway, I apologize for not posting for so long – I promise it’s not a sign of things to come!! I just needed some time adjusting to my new schedule and some other changes. And now that I’m a working mom (*all mom’s are “working moms” but what I mean here is outside the home), I will be able to relate more easily to those of you in that position, and I’ll try to post more recipes that will help make dinner simpler for everyone! That said, I am more than ready to start sharing some of my favorite spring & summer recipes with you!

Nori Sesame Dressing

This salad dressing may be familiar to those of you who have actually eaten at The Green Scene. It was one of the most popular salad dressings and was served on a mixed greens salad. (picture coming soon!)

Mix in food processor until clumpy:

  • 3 sheets Nori (look for this in the Asian section of your grocery store)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup toasted sesame seeds

Then add:

  • 1/2 cup brown rice syrup
  • 3/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup water (I usually add > 1/2 cup, but you may choose to add the other 1/4 cup if you desire a thinner dressing)
  • 3/4 cup sesame oil (drizzle in slowly, last!)

BLEND ~ BLEND ~ BLEND

Apply to greens (with salad toppings of choice) and DEVOUR!

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Traditional Tomato Sauce

Do you ever just wonder where the time went? That has honestly been the question I have been asking myself pretty regularly for the last 4 years (or should I just say since my daughter was born!) Despite my delay of posting a blog (sorry about that, by the way), I have been cooking up a storm over here… including all of my favorite oldies, as well as trying some new things.

As you can see, we have our fill (and then some) of tomatoes over here!

Our garden is absolutely exploding with tomatoes!   The last time I told you about my garden, we had a serious abundance of cucumbers… Well, i didn’t really know too many ways to eat them all!  We were literally picking off about 8 cucumbers a day on average for a while there!  We ended up eating a lot on salads… snacking on tortillas filled with diced cucumber/tofutti cream cheese (which is even better with a little salsa, says my 2 1/2 year old)… and we juiced the rest that we got to before they went too rubbery.  I really found that apple/cucumber juice (give or take a carrot or two) is really delicious! As is watermelon/cucumber/apple juice.  I meant to pickle some of our cucumbers, but I wanted to invest in a good canning set-up instead of using the quick-jar method using a pickling pack. I also had a recipe for a cold cucumber soup that I wanted to try (that also contained coconut milk, which I LOOOVE), but honestly, I’m just not really a fan of cold soup and I didn’t ever get around to making it… But alas, now it seems that our cucumber plants are dying.  Next year I may just keep it at 2-3 plants.  6 plants just produced too many cucumbers for us to consume at once!

So… tomato sauce!! This is my basic pasta sauce recipe. It’s easy, its quick, it freezes beautifully and its a GREAT way to use up extra veggies and (of coarse) tomatoes.  If you have fresh herbs, feel free to substitute them for the dry (if doing so, use a little more than the dry amounts). And feel free to add extra tomatoes, spices or veggies of your choice!

I find that making tomato sauce is a bit of an art… You can follow a recipe, but I find its best just to taste it occasionally and add what you think it needs more of 🙂 That being said, this is a great recipe to eat as is… but sometimes it changes slightly depending on what veggies are sitting in our fridge. Sometimes I even stir in a pack or two of faux beef crumbles if we’re in the mood for a “meaty” sauce.

Your Vegan Neighbor’s Traditional Tomato Sauce

1) Saute together everything but the tomatoes (and sugar) until the onion is tender.

2) Mix in the tomatoes and sugar. Simmer 15-30 minutes, to let the flavors blend, stirring occasionally.

Veggies:

  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 8-10 mushrooms, sliced (optional)
  • 1 green or red pepper, chopped (or use 1/2 cup of each!)

Spices:

  • 2 tsp dry oregano
  • 1 tsp each dry basil, thyme
  • generous 1/2 tsp pepper
  • pinch fresh rosemary
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • generous 1 tsp salt
  • 2-3 Tbsp olive oil

Tomatoes:

  • 1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes (or4 cups fresh, pureed)
  • 1 15-oz. can tomato paste (or two 6 oz cans)
  • 5-8 fresh tomatoes, diced (the bigger the better)
  • 1 or 2 tsp sugar, as needed, to balance the acidity

okay, so this picture is a little boring, but here is my humble plate of noodles topped with tomato sauce

my husbands plate looking much fancier topped with homemade sauce, nutritional yeast and fresh basil… leaves me wondering “why didn’t I do that?!”

This is roughly the amount of sauce the recipe makes. The big one went into the freezer, and the small one served 4 plates with leftovers!

If you missed my faux meatball recipe, check it out here!  I plan on experimenting with another meatball recipe soon!

Basil Walnut Pesto

If you ask me, one of the best things to plant in a garden is basil.  There are so many things you can do with basil… you can make bruchetta, pesto, serve atop pasta… add to fancy drinks, add to salads… or you can just dry it out and save it for later!  Not to mention, deer dislike basil, so having lots of basil plants around your garden may help keep the deer from eating your veggies before you do! I have a small boxed garden full of basil plus several basil growing in pots that I move around the garden wherever I feel necessary!

This is a simple recipe I threw together that turned out DELICIOUS! It probably made somewhere between 3/4 – 1 cup.  Mmmmm! Good thing I have about 15 basil plants outside because we devoured this batch in a day! I was REALLY surprised at how much my kids enjoyed eating this pesto! YAY! I love when my kids surprise me and really enjoy something I was hesitant to serve them! (Especially when its so healthy!) Next time I think we may even try it on spaghetti noodles instead of sauce!

(I found that you can really pack basil into a measuring cup, so it I think it depends on how much basil you have to how hard you pack it in.  My advice – just use your best judgement!)

Basil Walnut Pesto

Simply blend it all in the food processor, adding the oil in last. I kinda pulsed all my ingredients together but then I just let it blend when I added the oil!  I guess it depends on how you like your pesto! Feel free to sub pine nuts for the walnuts, but don’t forget that using walnuts adds all those yummy omega-3 oils!

  • 1/3 cup toasted walnuts
  • 1 cup basil, packed, but not crammed
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • < 1 Tbsp lemon juice (preferably fresh)
  • crank/dash of pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast (instead of Parmesan)

Here is our pesto on a french baguette with diced tomato… serve with balsamic vinegar on the side for ultimate yumminess!

Pesto makes a great pizza sauce instead of your traditional tomato sauce!

Vegan Whipped Cream Taste Test

So, searching the internet and my cookbooks to find the most delicious homemade whipped cream led me to these two recipes here… one is made using tofu and one is made using coconut milk. One is a little healthier (tofu) and one is a little fattier (coconut)… but which one will prove itself to be better?? Well, I think only an old-fashioned taste test is in order!!

Not that there is anything wrong with the store-bought soy whipped cream – it’s seriously good! – but this is great if you prefer making things from scratch 🙂

Both of these “whipped cream’s” should keep for  roughly 5 days in the fridge.  Just chill until ready to use, just like regular whipped cream!

VEGAN WHIPPED CREAM -USING TOFU

    • 1 block silken tofu (I usually have Mori Nu extra firm silken tofu around, so that is what I primarily use, though I think lite, soft, firm, or xtra firm would all work okay!)
    • 2 Tbsp agave nectar (amber or raw)  OR use real maple syrup
    • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
    • pinch of salt
    • 1  1/2 tsp vanilla extract
    • > 1  Tbsp canola oil
    • 1 Tbsp cornstarch to help thicken

Blend all ingredients in food processor or mixer and whip until thoroughly mixed. Dont forget to occasionally scrape down the sides! (Add a splash of water if necessary to help mix but remember you want it to as thick as possible.)  Store and serve as you would real whipped cream!

(I usually use silken tofu for making silky soft pudding, which is why I thought it’d be the best kind of tofu for making this whipped cream, though I bet regular soft or firm tofu would work well too, though you’d have to use a bit less as the silken tofu blocks are smaller than regular blocks of tofu, and adding a little water may be necessary. Please let me know if you try using something different than silken tofu! I’m curious to know how it works out!)

I love the healthy benefits of the tofu whipped cream… It was sweet, perfect for dipping fruit, and also contains zero cholesterol and little fat.

 VEGAN WHIPPED CREAM – USING COCONUT MILK

  • can of regular coconut milk (NOT low-fat!!)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup (opt)
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • scant 1/4 cup powdered sugar (This ingredient is debatable – it may not be necessary to add!)

** First, it is best if you have chilled your can of coconut milk for several hours or overnight.  I also like to chill my mixing bowl in the freezer for a few minutes before mixing. **

1) Without shaking or flipping over your can of coconut milk, open the can carefully and scoop out all the fatty stuff on top – this is your cream! You can save the rest of the coconut water for another recipe. (I tried poking a hole into the bottom of the can to let the liquid drain into a bowl, but found this method a bit more complicated.  I’d recommend just opening the can normally and skimming the cream off the top.)

2) Whip the coconut cream on high-speed, about 4-5 minutes until it you can see your beater making track marks through it. Scrape down the sides and add each ingredient, stopping to scrape the sides and beat again after each one. Once the mixture is nice, thick & creamy, chill until needed!

OUR CONCLUSION:

Well, the kids were practically doing back flips over the coconut version, I think because of the powdered sugar (which I don’t really think was necessary to add)…  It wasnt quite as fluffy as I wanted, but I’m pretty sure that was totally my fault – Some of the watery stuff got into my cream because of the way I tried to open the can from the bottom.  Next time, it will be perfect!!

I am happy to say the kids both really enjoyed the tofu version as well!!  The tofu version proved not only to be delicious… but healthier… I see myself making this often to use as a fruit dip for the summer!  Mmmm!

However, when it comes to strawberry shortcakes, honestly, both these whipped creams made the grade in my book!  They were both great and I will make them both again.