Category Archives: lunch

Vegan Manicotti

With my plate pretty full from working during the week & getting used to my daughters school routine, I’m on the hunt for some fast & easy dinners… So are you, right?!  Most days I work until 5:30-6pm, so I love a good homemade meal that I know the kids will eat AND that I can whip up fairly quickly. Kids or no kids, one can never have enough recipes like that in their possession!

In my experience, most kids – and some adults – are finicky eaters (one time they love something and the next time they wont touch it!) so I get really excited when I make something that my kids really love EVERY time. It is so comforting to know when they are going to bed with a nice full belly! Here’s a few links to some of our favorite family meals that are fairly quick to make: fettucini no-fredo, biscuits and gravy, soysage casserole (prepared ahead), homemade vegan mac, pancakes/waffles (sorry no direct link, theres too many to choose from!), pot pie, homemade pizza… &  spaghetti with meatballs!

My family loves this tofu ricotta! I love it for a few reasons – it is fast, it is versatile (it makes several meals – lasagna, manicotti, ziti), the dishes can be made ahead or frozen, & its  healthy- the ricotta is full of protein (tofu) & vitamin B-12 (nutritional yeast), two things that are especially great for vegans. In fact, I think this ricotta just so good that I keep putting off trying vegan ricotta using cashews, a recipe I’ve been meaning to try FOREVER! I’ll get around to it soon, it’s just that Vegan Gourmet Soy cheese is very accessible to me and I personally think its delicious. I have never tried to make this ricotta recipe with Diaya, but I’m sure it would be yummy too. Let me know if you try that!

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Vegan Manicotti

Manicotti is super easy and simple. The hard part is stuffing the noodles without splitting them! (Be sure to cook up lots of noodles cause they split fairly easily.) I think the best, fastest & most attractive way to achieve this is to use a pastry frosting piping bag or making your own by cutting the tip off the corner of a large freezer-ziplock bag. You can also just stuff jumbo shells if you prefer… They are easier to fill, but I find them messier overall. (TIP: Another quick meal to make with this ricotta is making baked ziti – cook & drain ziti noodles and just stir it all together (ziti noodles, ricotta, and sauce), shred some more cheese on top and bake it up!)

You will need :

  • 9×13″ baking pan
  • 1 jar of sauce
  • 1 batch of Tofu Ricotta (recipe below)
  • 1 box of Manicotti Noodles (Ferrara is what I usually use)

1) Make this tofu ricotta in a food processor. Blend all ingredients but pulse the basil in last, if you are using fresh basil.

  • 1 block tofu (I like to use extra firm)
  • 1 cup shredded vegan gourmet mozzarella, packed
  • 1 cup soymilk
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice (fresh is best!)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil – pulse in last! (2 tsp – 3 tsp if using dry basil)

2) Cook noodles according to box. (Mine cooked about 8-9 min.) Take the noodles out of the boiling water when they are done and lay them on paper towels to wait until they are cool enough to handle.

3) Spread a little sauce in the bottom of your 9 x 12 baking dish. Now fill the noodles carefully with the tofu ricotta by spoon or piping bag (I recommend the piping/ziplock bag method).

4) Arrange the stuffed noodles side by side in the pan. Cover with sauce and bake 25 minutes at 350 F. That’s all there is to it!

Serve with fresh garlic toast or bread. Mmmmmm! So easy and satisfying!

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The proof is on the plate… or in this case, an almost empty plate!!

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Arlo in action! Chomp! Chomp!

I cant even tell you how happy I am now that I found my camera!  Blogging recipes isn’t as much fun when you can’t share the visual of the finished product! More to come very soon! 🙂

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Potato and Vegetable Stir-Fry (compliments of The Grit)

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This meal is truly one of my favorite things in existence.

Ahhh… the Grit… If you are ever traveling near Athens GA, you would be wise to check it out. The Grit is one of my all-time favorite vegetarian restaurants, one of where I am never disappointed. I could eat there every day of the week and never tire of it. This is one meal that I order every time we go out for breakfast or for weekend brunch.  This recipe is featured in the Grit Cookbook.

This makes 8 servings, so feel free to halve it! It really makes a lot (even a half batch), which is awesome since its great for breakfast, lunch or dinner! I like to serve mine over brown rice with a side of toast (or a biscuit) and grits.

The Grit’s Potato & Vegetable Stir Fry

  • vegetable oil
  • 2 pounds boiling potatoes, such as round white, round red or Yukon Gold, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes (I prefer using small red potatoes, scrubbed well and unpeeled)
  • soy sauce
  • 1 cup button or crimini mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and thinly julienned
  • 1 small head cabbage (preferably red) shredded or sliced thin
  • 2 small yellow squash, quartered and cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 2 small zucchini, quartered and cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, cut into thin strips (or red bell pepper)
  • 1 small or 1/2 large onion, cut into thin crescents
  • nutritional yeast
  • 1 batch of golden tofu
  • brown rice, or rice of choice… this could also be served over quinoa!

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1) Prepare golden tofu and set aside.

2) In a large non-stick skillet (or wok) coated with a minimal amount of vegetable oil, saute potatoes over high heat until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle lightly with soy sauce as they cook. Set aside.

3) Stir fry mushrooms until tender and golden around the edges, about 3 minutes. Add vegetables, pepper and onion. Using minimal oil and sprinkling lightly with soy sauce, cook until vegetables are crisp-tender and somewhat seared, about 3 minutes.

4) Return potatoes and golden tofu to skillet and stir to mix with vegetables, then add nutritional yeast to taste and toss to cover completely. Serve over brown rice. Devour!

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I apologize… I could’ve taken a prettier picture, but we could barely wait to eat!! I basically threw it onto our plates and served it right up –  without our usual sides of toast and grits! Mmmm! Sometimes you just cant wait for a good thing!!

Vegan White Sausage Gravy & Biscuits

When the weather starts to get chilly, there is nothing like a big bowl of biscuits & gravy to warm you up from the inside out. I wish I could bring this to everyone affected by the early winter weather storms we’ve had this year. Hopefully you don’t think biscuits and gravy are just a “southern thing”… If you’ve never had a good meal of biscuits & gravy, you are missing out on one of the best comfort foods out there!

This is a meal packed with protein that both kids and adults can enjoy. It makes a great breakfast, lunch or dinner when served over these vegan buttermilk biscuits.

Vegan Sausage White Gravy (“Scarborough Fair style”)

(‘Scarborough Fair style’ contains parsley, sage, rosemary & thyme)

  • 1 tube Lightlife GimmeLean Soysage
  • 2-3 Tbsp olive oil (to saute soysage and onion)
  • 2 Tbsp soy margarine (like Earth Balance)
  • 1/2 – 3/4 large yellow or white onion, minced
  • 1/2 cup unbleached flour
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 3 cups soymilk, plus up to another cup (to thin gravy as it thickens)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp each parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme

1) Brown the soysage in a big skillet over medium-high heat with a little olive oil by chopping it into bits with your spatula while it cooks. Once it is chopped into bits and browned,  move it into a separate bowl and set aside.

2) In the same skillet, saute the chopped onion in a bit of oil until translucent. Then add the soysage back in there with the onion and mix them together.

3) Add in the flour and soy margarine to the skillet, mixing well until everything is mixed together thoroughly. Turn heat down to medium.

4) Add in 3 cups of soymilk and stir. Add the herbs & spices. Continue cooking and stirring while it thickens, adding in the last cup of soymilk bit by bit as necessary, until desired thickness is achieved (though once the gravy is pretty hot and getting thick, turn down the heat down to simmer/warm).  Serve over top of these buttermilk biscuits.

Mmmmm…. gravy!

I can’t believe Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away! I know most of us are looking forward to making (or eating!) our Thanksgiving day meals. Perhaps you are making your tried and true recipes, or perhaps you are looking to try something new… either way, I hope we all remember that the point of this upcoming holiday is to bring us all together, to overlook faults & shortcomings and to simply enjoy each others company as we share time on this precious earth together. 🙂

In my opinion, a really good Thanksgiving meal is about enjoying a collection of many different dishes… maybe the turkey is a big part of that to you, but in my family, we celebrate our gratitude by acknowledging that for us, a sacrifice is not a necessary component  on the table. The way I see it, there are enough sacrifices that each of make in our daily lives… this is one day we shouldn’t have to sacrifice anything! It is a day to enjoy, appreciate and be grateful for all that is in existence… every plant, every animal… and every person! That being said, Thanksgiving recipes will be forthcoming!

Golden Tofu

This recipe is one of my favorite ways to eat tofu EVER.  This happens to be how they cook the tofu at my favorite vegetarian restaurant, The Grit. (You can order their awesome cookbook here if you want to.  I highly recommend it! Please note it is not 100% vegan, though many recipes can be veganized.  You have GOT to try the yeast gravy!! Sometimes I just want to order a side of that with a spoon!)   We eat this tofu by itself, as a side, stir fried with veggies & rice, or sometimes we even toss it into a pot roast. It is really easy and oh so yummy!!  This fried tofu is one of those foods that you just gotta spoil yourself with and indulge in from time to time… It definitely makes it into my list of comfort foods.

All you need to make this is a non-stick skillet, a block of tofu, olive oil, soy sauce and nutritional yeast.  Maybe I shouldn’t tell you this, but we often find ourselves fighting like vultures over the last pieces! Hahahaha… seriously.

Golden Tofu

Gather ye ingredients: olive oil, a block of tofu, soy sauce, nutritional yeast. Vegetable oil also works just as well.

1) Cut tofu into cubes, about the size of dice. Lightly oil a non-stick skillet over high heat.  Add a small amount of oil and allow it to heat slightly then add tofu. Saute, tossing until evenly lightly browned. Sprinkle lightly with soy sauce, saute briefly again to further brown the tofu. Remove from skillet.

step 1 – before cooking

step 1- cooked tofu before adding soy sauce

2) Rinse and wipe skillet dry. Lightly oil skillet again and place over high heat. Allow the oil to become very hot then add the tofu. Saute, tossing constantly until very well browned. Sprinkle with soy sauce to taste, then sprinkle with nutritional yeast to coat the cubes. Saute several more seconds then remove from heat and serve!

step 2 – tofu being sauteed in soy sauce

The finished product. Fried tofu, served alongside veggies of choice (in this case, homemade cornbread, sauteed sesame-collards and mashed sweet potatoes).

Vegan Macaroni Salad

We started out our day this morning in the garden.  Our garden is currently producing cucumbers at warp speed , so I’ve been trying to think of recipes that use cucumbers.  Ironically, this recipe doesn’t contain any cucumbers, but bear with me! There will be some coming! I am not a HUGE cucumber person… I’m not sure why I planted 6 (yes, six!) cucumber plants in our garden this year.  But, on the bright side, it’s been forcing me to eat cucumbers with a vengeance.  So far, with our first ones, we’ve been making salads… eating cucumber & cream cheese sandwiches… we have had hummus with slices of cucumber on the side… falafel patties topped with cucumber and tomato.  I think I may try to make my own pickles this year with some of them.  What is your favorite thing to do with cucumbers?

This morning we made a big “Green Juice” in the juicer, containing (surprise!) cucumber, apple, kale, spinach and celery.  It was really refreshing! My kids didn’t care for it though -not sweet enough I guess!  Maybe I will add more apples for them next time.

It’s finally starting to really feel like summer here in good old Georgia, with pleasant morning temperatures climbing high late in the afternoon… but it’s not late enough in the year to be deathly hot yet!  Ahhh… it’s totally one of those days that makes me want to make sweet tea (if you’re from the south you will know what I mean) and grill out vegan hot dogs with macaroni salad and potato chips on the side… which brings me to today’s recipe – Macaroni Salad!

This macaroni salad is delicious, easy AND healthy… it is tofu based instead of mayo based… You could use vegan mayo if you wanted to, but trust me and try this first – everything I have ever made from scratch always turns out better!  Make this ahead of time and keep cold until ready to serve.  Even though it’s not made with mayonnaise, I personally don’t like to leave anything that should be cold sitting out in the hot sun for long!  This is a great salad to have around on the Fourth of July or at any picnic or cookout!

I changed very little from the original recipe, which is from Vegan Planet, one of my first and very favorite cookbooks! Robin Robertson never lets me down.  She makes vegan cooking seem so easy!

Vegan Macaroni Salad

  • 8 oz elbow macaroni noodles
  • 1/2 cup minced celery (I only used 1/4 cup)
  • > 1/2 block silken tofu
  • 1/4 cup grated onion
  • 1/4 cup sweet pickle relish
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • cayenne pepper (optional)

1 – Cook the noodles in some boiling salted water until al dente, 8-10 minutes.  Drain and rinse well under cold water.  You want to rinse off the starch and stop them from cooking any furthur and turning into mush! Put them in a large bowl and continue on.  (You could even shock the noodles in a little ice bath to stop them from cooking and chill them really quick if you wanted to.)

2- In a blender or food processor, combine the tofu, soy milk and process until smooth.  Scrape down the sides and process again. Stir in by hand the onion, celery, relish, lemon juice, mustard, salt and cayenne to taste (or save the cayenne for last and sprinkle on top as serving).  Add the cold (drained) pasta noodles and mix well.  Cover and chill at least 1 hour before serving cold. Devour… alongside your other favorite summer dishes!

This easy macaroni salad is a great addition to any BBQ, cookout or picnic!

Edamame Hummus

Wow.  I usually don’t get so excited about dip, but I just whipped this up this morning with last night’s leftover steamed edamame, and I can’t believe how good it is!  My kids are practically the licking the bowl clean right now! Edamame is one of those super foods, jam-packed with protein and other nutrients.  It’s especially good for vegetarians/vegans.  I have a feeling I’m going to be making this hummus a lot!   Read more below about edamame below, or if you already know how amazing edamame is, scroll to the bottom for the recipe.

Here’s A Short Novel About Edamame…

(which I copied from this livestrong.com article)

Edamame has high nutritional value and health benefits.  These green soybeans are a natural source of antioxidants and isoflavones, which  has increased edamame’s popularity in the United States. Antioxidants are  beneficial because they can help prevent negative effects of free radicals in  the body. Eating antioxidant-rich foods has been associated strengthening your  immune system and with reducing your risk of cancer, hardening of the arteries  and neurodegenerative diseases. Isoflavones are phytohormones that may help  reduce prostate and breast cancer, diminish the risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure levels and ease menopausal symptoms.  Women who are menopausal  and have low estrogen levels may benefit from snacking on a handful of edamame  daily because of the natural soybean’s phytochemical quality.
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The fresh vegetable soybeans called edamame contain  about 36 percent protein, which is 86 percent higher than mature soybeans.  Edamame’s low oil content, combined with its high protein content, makes this  vegetable very popular with health-conscious people who want a low-fat,  protein-rich snack. Vegetarians and vegans who want a high protein food will  find that edamame’s protein is complete, which means it contains all nine  essential amino acids the human body needs.
Protein helps your body’s tissues to  develop properly and helps your body resist diseases; it produces hormones,  enzymes and other substances your body uses; gives people energy and helps  prevent fatigue. Edamame has no cholesterol, very little saturated fat, and a  half-cup serving provides 11 g of protein toward an average adult’s daily  requirement of 46 to 63 g.
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Edamame is rich in vitamin C and B vitamins, and it is  one of the few natural sources of vitamin E. These soybeans also provide you  with minerals, such as calcium, manganese, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and  copper. Nutrients in green soybeans that benefit heart health include vitamin K  and folate, which increases the production of red blood cells. Folic acid is  also essential for pregnant women because it helps with fetal  development.
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Adding edamame to your diet will help you increase your  fiber intake. Fiber is important for healthy digestion, and a half cup of  edamame contains 4 gr of fiber. Fiber also helps lower cholesterol, which may  reduce your risk of heart disease. Another reason edamame is a good snack food  is that the fiber keeps you feeling full for a longer period and this helps you  avoid unhealthy between-meal snacks.
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Edamame has anti-inflammatory qualities and can be a good  food to eat if you have arthritis or other inflammatory conditions, such as  rheumatoid arthritis. Fresh green soybeans, eaten as a snack or a side dish, may  help people with asthma, because this vegetable decreases inflammation in your  breathing passages, and this can reduce wheezing and coughing.
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Your Vegan Neighbor’s Edamame Hummus

  • 1  1/2 cups shelled edamame (I used leftover steamed edamame, but you can use thawed out frozen edamame or I’m sure drained and rinsed canned soybeans would work as well, though you may want to cook them first)
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp tahini
  • 1 medium-large clove garlic minced
  • up to 1/2 cup water
  • sea salt to taste (I used about >1/2 tsp)
First blend the edamame in your food processor.  Then add the rest of the ingredients! Make sure to scrape the sides down occasionally. Refrigerate until cold! (If your edamame was already cold in your refrigerator, you can eat your hummus immediately!… And as with most hummus, this will probably thicken up a little bit in the fridge).  Mmmmm! Excuse me… but it’s my turn to DEVOUR some hummus!
Yum! I love this edamame hummus!

“Tow’mater” Soup with Grilled Cheese

For a fun night of Cars watching and good eats, check out this weeks Dinner and a Movie… featuring Disneys ‘Cars’ and one of my favorite comfort food combinations, “Mater” Soup with Grilled Cheese!   Enjoy!