Category Archives: sauces

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!

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!

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 Filet O Tofu Fish Sandwiches

So, I haven’t blogged in quite a few days… all of this warm summery weather and unusually high temperatures has been keeping us outside pretty late.  We’ve also been busy working on the yard by doing some light landscaping… planting flowers…  starting our herb garden… trimming our peach trees… weeding the front bed… and of coarse we have also spent lots of time just being together playing outside (mostly swinging).

We’re trying to do our part to stimulate the economy by visiting some of our favorite local restaurants too, which is always fun and usually leaves us with delicious leftovers 🙂 Man, this great weather has really been putting me in the mood for a visit to the ocean… but since a beach vacation isn’t in my near future, I decided to make my own ocean experience with these “fish” patties!

After I whipped up this quick yummy 3-ingredient tartar sauce, I realized just how essential the sauce is – it is the sauce that really makes this fish taste for me… probably because the only fish I ate as a kid that I actually liked were frozen fish sticks with tartar sauce!

These breaded tofu “fish” cakes turned out really great and they can also be made fish stick style, which is how I made them for the kids… My husband and I ate our’s as filet sandwiches on a bun with tartar sauce and a slice of vegan american cheese. My husband has since told me his mouth was salivating in anticipation of his next tofu “fish” sandwich, which makes me really happy  🙂  We may make these again for a Dinner and a Movie night and eat them while we watch Shark Tale, the Little Mermaid or maybe (Not) Finding Nemo!

Tartar Sauce

Mix and chill:

  • 1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise (I like Veganaise)
  • 2 heaping Tbsp sweet relish, excess liquid drained off
  • 1/2 tsp mustard (I used Dijon)

Filet-o-Tofu-Fish Sandwiches

First press your block of tofu, then cut it into 4 slices lengthwise and marinate your tofu in a large tupperware or shallow bowl for as long as possible in this mix:

  • 1 cup water & 2 heaping tsp kelp granules or kelp powder (you will need more for coating, see below)

I used this for my patties and it sure gave it a fishy quality!

After marinating the tofu, dredge the tofu slabs through the mix below thoroughly and pan fry them in a little olive oil. You can also bake these for about 40 minutes at 400 if you prefer, flipping halfway through.

  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp kelp granules or powder
  • 4 hamburger buns, 4 slices vegan cheese

* I recommend sprinkling a little extra kelp over the top of the filets as you pan fry them for the ultimate ocean experience! *

marinating the tofu in kelp-water

coating the "fish sticks" with breading

pan frying in olive oil

A simple and delicious sandwich.

Filet o Tofu Fish served with tartar sauce, red quinoa and green beans

A Mess of Mama’s Vegan BBQ

Check out this weeks Dinner and a Movie  🙂  We watched one of our favorites -Emmet Otter’s Jug-band Christmas and made… what other than… BARBECUE!! A mess of mama’s barbecue to be exact… with baked beans.

Check it out by clicking here!

And if you missed it, check out the pictures I added of my Dr. Seuss Omelet

Homemade Pizza, Vegan Style

Who doesn’t love pizza?  There is something very satisfying about making a delicious homemade pizza, made to order.  Some people think that when you go vegan, you  have to give up pizza, but that is simply untrue. After all, all a vegan really does is replace the animal ingredients with plant-based ones.  It’s easy… and most of the time it is better for you!  In fact, when I became vegan, I also discovered that I really enjoy a pizza loaded with veggies without cheese at all!

But, there are definetly times when I feel like eating a cheesy pizza… & when I do, I like to use either Follow your Heart brand Vegan Gourmet mozzarella or Daiya mozarella. My husband prefers the flavor of the vegan gourmet, but I think both are just delicious!  (You may want to note that the daiya “cheese” is a gluten & dairy & soy free cheese… And also, it does tend to melt better on a quick cooking time, (such as this 12 minute pizza), which is probably why our local pizza shop offers the Daiya cheese on the vegan pizzas rather than the other brand.)

delicious daiya "cheese"

So, when Im in a pinch for a quick dinner this is my go-to crust.  It doesnt require any real rising time, which means by the time you blend the dough up, you can practically slap it right onto your pizza pan, top it with sauce, veggies & cheese and bake it for 10-14 minutes… so this can definetly be an under 30 min meal from start to finish 🙂

 Your Vegan Neighbor’s Quick & Easy Pizza Crust

(makes one large crust)

  • 1 1/4 cup unbleached flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp yeast (I use a kind that I buy in a jar in the flour aisle of Kroger, Fleishmans bread machine yeast)
  • 2/3 cup hot water + enough olive oil to meet the 3/4 cup mark on my measuring cup

(If you are unfamiliar with using yeast, you should note that water that is too hot will kill the yeast.  You do not want to use boiling water.  In fact, I usually stick in my finger to see if it is a good temperature.  It should be tolerable to the finger – it shouldn’t burn you, but it should feel hot!)

1) Preheat oven to 450 F.

2) Mix dry ingredients in the food processor.  Pour the hot water/oil in through the feed tube and let the dough form a ball.   Process for about 40 seconds, then transfer to a lightly-oiled bowl or a floured surface.

3) Let rest for several minutes while you prepare your toppings, then punch it down & roll it /stretch it out to fit your pan. If it doesnt want to stretch as big as you want, just let it rest another minute, and if it gets too thin & starts to tear anywhere, just pinch it back together.

4) Add sauce, toppings & bake for 10-14 minutes until cheese is melty or crust is golden brown.

making the doughball

Here is my dough ball after resting about 10 minutes while I chopped all my veggies!

It is good with cheese or just plain and loaded with veggies!

Misc pizza tips: I use a pizza pan with holes in the bottom.  I think that helps the pizza cook more evenly.  I also give my pan a quick spray w/non-stick cooking spray to ensure that my pizza doesn’t get stuck!  When my pizza is about to go in the oven, I think that drizzling a little olive oil all around the edges of the crust gives the pizza a fantastic end result!

Your Vegan Neighbor’s Homemade Pizza Sauce

Whisk together the following ingredients and spread on prepared crust! This makes enough for 2 pizzas.  (You can also freeze half for another time!)

  • 1 – 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 1 can of water (use tomatoe paste can)
  • generous splash of olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • 3/4 tsp basil
  • 1 1/2 tsp oregano
  • < 1/4 tsp thyme
  • 3/4 tsp fresh rosemary (or 1/2 dry – I have a big rosemary bush so I almost always use fresh rosemary!)

Some of my favorite toppings are chopped broccoli, onion, cubed tofu, black olives, spinach, garlic, artichoke hearts… You’d really be surprised at what your kids might eat when it’s cooked into a delicious pizza! The Yves brand soy pepperoni is pretty good but my kids think it’s a little too spicy for them. And sometimes we just go for a plain pineapple & cheese pizza 🙂  Mmmmm!  I think I’m ready for another slice…

Look! There's a piece of broccoli going in with that bite!

Taking a cautious bite of fresh baked (& little hot) pizza!