Tuesday, January 12, 2010


I have never been a huge mac and cheese fan.

I remember, very clearly, and incident when I was a child that turned me off Kraft Dinner for the rest of my life. Over the years I've tried a few times to face my fear (sometimes as a starving student it would just smell so darn good when a roommate was cooking it) and I'd attempt to stomach it, but alas, each time brought on the dreaded gag reflex,

Last year P got a hold of his Mom's coveted recipe and again the lure of the cheesy goodness took over and I thought I would try one last time to get over my issues with the pasta dish and dug in when it was placed before me.

But yet again, the gag reflex reared its ugly head.

So why I chose to make this dish this weekend I don’t really know other that I have been intrigued by this new food I keep reading about, nutritional yeast.

I had picked some up at Whole Foods a while ago and I thought it was time to put this stuff to the test.

I grabbed the recipe from Alicia Silverstone’s website and new book The Kind Diet and modified it a smidge

And was I surprised with the outcome.

No only did Mr. Gag Reflex not come to dinner, I really enjoyed it! The creamy texture of the sauce and the crunchy bits of the bread crumb topping where just what I was looking for in a comfort food.

I did douse it with my usual condiment of Mr. Tabasco Sauce, but that how I roll. Momma likes it spicy

So here ya go, enjoy all its creamy cheezy like goodness:


3 cups Elbow pasta
1 cup soymilk
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp paprika
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup of water
1 slice organic whole wheat bread, crumbled

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees

Cook the pasta until almost al dente.

In a blender combine garlic, nutritional yeast, mustard and paprika, garlic, soy sauce, soymilk and canola oil and blend until creamy.

Mix sauce with cooked noodles

In food processor, pulse bread until finely crumbled

Pour noodles in to casserole dish and top with breadcrumbs

Bake uncovered until bubbly and breadcrumbs are browned.


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Come and Get It!

Since it’s my last day on vacation, I decided to spend it in the kitchen cooking up a storm.

I don’t usually have loads of time to spend making lunches and dinners so when I have a free day I like to make big batches of things so I can grab and go as needed.

On today’s to do list was:

Chickpea Squash & Yam-Patties

Black Bean and Yam Burritos

Sautéed Crimini Mushrooms

Spinach Salad with Red & Yellow Tomato Dressing and Toasted Sun Flower Seeds

Simple Guacamole

Mmmmm, with so many good eats going on I just had to dig in for dinner:

Chickpea Patties, Spinach Salad with Red & Yellow Tomato Dressing and Toasted Sun Flower Seeds and Sautéed Crimini Mushrooms

Simple Guacamole

Nothing better than a simple, tasty classic


1 avocado, mashed
1 medium tomato, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
3 green onions, finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh parsley, minced
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp salt
½ tbsp lemon juice

Combine all ingredients and refrigerate at least 2 hours before jumping in.

Tasty not only on tortilla chips, but also as a sandwich spread, on rice cakes and pita wedges or as a veggie dip.

Black Bean & Yam Burritos

This is my first attempt at a La Dolce Vegan recipe. I modified it slightly and think next time I will pump up the heat, cuz this gal likes her spice.

Also, the recipe says it makes 4 burritos, but I managed to get 6 BIG ones out of it …


1 large yam, peeled and cubed
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp safflower oil
1 15 oz can organic black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup vegetable stock
1 ½ tbsp chilli powder
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp salt
6 large whole wheat tortillas
1 cup Mozzarella Vegan Gourmet Cheese Alternative, shredded
½ cup mild salsa

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees

In a large pot of salted water, boil yams.

While yams are cooking, in a large skillet on medium heat, sauté onions and garlic in oil until clear.

Add in black beans, vegetable stock, chilli powder, cumin and salt & simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.

Drain water from yams, mash and set aside.

Once beans are done cooking, transfer to bowl, mash and set aside.

Take 6 tortilla shells and lay flat on counter.

Spread out onto each tortilla: Yams, black beans, cheese and top with salsa.

Roll up each burrito, place onto cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes or until crispy.

Enjoy hot out of the oven with a fresh salad or wrap in tinfoil and pop into freezer for a easy grab and go lunch

Red & Yellow Tomato Dressing

This recipe was a mistake. A mistake that turned out pretty dang tasty!


½ large slicer tomato, roughly chopped
1 small yellow tomato, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic
1 tsp safflower oil
½ tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper

Combine all ingredients into food processer and mix until liquefied

Unlike traditional dressings, this one is thicker and a bit lumpy BUT holds up very well when tossed with fresh spinach, red mustard or romaine lettuce.

This could also work well as a Bruschetta topping … mmmm

Sautéed Crimini Mushrooms

Easy and full of flavour, just the way I like it


4 cups crimini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 tbsp safflower oil
1 tbsp dried rosemary
1 tbsp dried basil
½ tbsp black pepper
½ tbsp kosher salt

Pre-heat large skillet over medium heat

Toss mushrooms in oil with hands

Add in spices and toss again with hands

Let sit about 10 minutes before adding to pan

Sauté for 15 minutes or until mushrooms are evenly browned and tender

Pledge to Become Vegan in 2010

Its as new year and time for a new lifestyle.

Last November, I made the PETA pledge to become Vegetarian for 30 days, I then decided to amp it up and go full on vegan and since then have not looked back.

Today I got an email from the PETA the with some great tips on how to make the change easy, and not as overwhelming as you may think:

Some people become vegan after looking an animal in the eye and realizing that there's a "who," not a "what," looking back. Others avoid meat, eggs, and dairy foods to ditch unwanted pounds or because they want to help the environment. Whatever the reason, there's never been a better time to cut the meat and other animal-derived products out of your diet.

A vegan diet is truly a lifesaver: Vegans and vegetarians are less likely to suffer from heart disease, obesity, and several types of cancer, according to the American Dietetic Association. Plus, vegan foods are delicious!

Top Five Tips for Making the Switch:

Make vegan versions of your favorite meals
"Veg up" your favorite recipes simply by replacing the meat with other foods. For example, replace the beef in burritos with beans, guacamole, and grilled veggies, or try vegan beef crumbles from Morningstar Farms or Boca. Make spaghetti with marinara sauce and add roasted vegetables as well as vegan meatballs or sausage (try Nate's brand or GimmeLean).

Explore delicious vegan recipes.
You'll be amazed by the variety of tasty vegan options, from classic American dishes to Italian and Creole. People tell us all the time that being vegan exposed them to an array of flavors and foods they never knew existed.

Try tasty faux meats and dairy alternatives.
Sample the ever-growing lineup of mock meats - including vegan burgers, hot dogs, turkey deli slices, riblets, and chicken patties - and the vast array of tasty alternatives to dairy products, like vegan cream cheese, yogurt, and ice cream. Some of the most popular brands include Boca, Gardenburger, Morningstar Farms, and Silk.

Sample microwaveable meals and convenience foods.
Always on the run? Check out the variety of vegan microwavable meals in your local grocery store's freezer aisle, like Amy's Black Bean Enchilada With Spanish Rice, Fantastic Foods' Vegetarian 3-Bean Chili, and Yves' Thai Lemongrass Veggie Chick'n. There are many quick and easy vegan snacks, including basics like fresh fruit and PB&J and unique options like Tofurky Jerky and Silk Live! soy-yogurt smoothies.

Find vegan-friendly restaurants in your area.
Whatever your budget and wherever you live, you can enjoy great vegan meals. Many national chains, like Johnny Rockets, sell tasty veggie burgers and other animal-friendly options.

Source: Pledge to be Vegan in 2010

Monday, January 4, 2010

Cooking up a Storm

Santa was SO very generous to me this year and I returned home from my Christmas vacation with 2 very exciting cook books:

My MIL gifted me with The Conscious Cook by Tal Ronnen and I started drooling just flipping the pages.

I am very intrigued by the recipes and one in particular caught my eye - the idea of making “cheese” from nuts. Yup, you heard me, cheese from nuts. This is a concept I have never heard of but its sounds DELSIH. There are two recipes in the book that I can’t wait to make; Cashew and Macadamia nut cheeses. I LOVE cashews and if there is a cheese that I can make from them I may just die and go to heaven.

It also provides a great, simple list of things to always keep in the pantry and what tools to have in the kitchen.

But what I really love about this book is its simplicity. The recipes are simple yet full of flavour and textures, the instructions are limited and not overly involved and the photos are mouth watering.

My Mother also bestowed the gift of reading/cooking on me with the vegan standard La Dolce Vegan by Sarah Kramer.

Every time I am in Chapters I would stop and flip the pages of this book and now I have my very own to dog ear, spill on and create from.

Again, the book is written in a simple and direct way, with uncomplicated ingredients and instructions.

A minor downside is the lack of photos. I am a visual gal and like to see what my end result should look like. I suppose in a way this opens the book up to individual interpretation and creativity, something I enjoy.

The introduction is well written with lots of personal touches and inspiring & motivational sentiments. As we all know, this can be a hard lifestyle sometimes and Sarah addresses this in a positive way.

The Kitchen Wisdom section is also a gem. From basics like time management & cleaning, to the astonishing list of 45 things to do with salt, this chapter has already become a well referenced list of do’s and don’ts.

And the crafty DIY chapter at the end is fun and again, simple.

Over all, both are excellent resources, offering varying types of cuisine, points of view and techniques.

Thumbs UP all around.

Now back to the kitchen …

Saturday, January 2, 2010

2010: The Start of Something Amazing

The holidays are behind us and the New Year is here.


I had a wonderful time on short but jam packed trip back home to visit all my friends and family, but I didn’t initially think that would be the case.

I’ll be honest; I was scared about this trip … this was going to be my first Christmas at home in 3 years, PLUS I was arriving as a newbie vegan, and as much as everyone had offered their support up until this point, I wasn’t too sure how far it would extend. I mean, it’s easy to say “Sure, I get it, we’re behind you” over the phone or in an email, but when it’s GO TIME, I was unsure of how much support would still be there.

Oh how wrong I was to doubt any of them. The support and love was undeniable.

Surprise #1
My Dad and Brother were visibly surprised when they dug into my vegan Christmas morning feast of Raspberry Chocolate Chip Pancakes and Spicy Hash Browns. Apparently they were expecting something else and not to YUM-FEST that it ended up being. Even got my Dad on the Earth Balance and soy milk … he’s clearly a convert in the making ;)

Surprise #1.1
My Dad and StepMom bought me a HUGE gift pack of vegan bath and body goodies from LUSH. Insanely thoughtful of them and I am now in bath and shower heaven – Ahhhh,

Surprise #2
This one came out of nowhere and blew me away. My “brother in law” surprised me by making a scrumptious veggie and tofu lasagne for me to enjoy at the big FamJam Christmas dinner. And it was FANTASTIC! It was so dang good that in a matter of days I had consumed the ENTIRE tray. As soon as I get the recipe from him I am planning on whipping up a batch – watch out, post to come :)

Surprise #3
Another out of left field. One of my long-time GFs knocked my socks off by making me (and my gluten intolerant “sister-in-law”) Gluten Free Gingerbread Vegans! They were soooo delish. Soft and full of gingery goodness. And to boot, she included a recipe card. I LOVE YOU K! Again, these babies are too good to have just once a year so I expect to be whipping up some in the near future,

Surprise #4
My "Mother in Law” - what a lady, a true class act. This is a woman who will do anything and EVERYTHING for her family. And it would appear that I have made the cut :) For a treat on boxing day she made up a batch of Gluten Free Carob Drop Cookies. OMG, they were amazing. Again soft and chewy inside, golden brown on the outside.

Surprise #5
MY MOTHER! If I could be like anyone on the planet, it would be this woman. Strength, courage, creativity and an uncompromising sense of caring & family are just a few of her adoring traits.

Now just a little back story: My mother married to a wonderful, kind and gentle Japanese-Canadian man and in the last 5 years has immersed her self in his family and culture. She is a Japanese culinary guru in the making. She would argue that she knows little, but I beg to differ.

ANYWHOO, we had decided that for our Christmas Dinner, which was taking place on Boxing Day, we were going to forgo the “traditional” dinner and make ourselves a proper (and mostly VEGAN) Japanese feast.

Oh and what a feast it was:

P and I made the Inarizushi (fried tofu skin (aburaage) cooked in a sweet-soy sauce sauce, stuffed with sushi rice)

Mom made the Miso Green Beans,

Sesame Baked Tofu,

Cucumber Sunamono (sooooo good!)

and a Curried Sweet Potato Soup (ok, not so Japanese but dang tasty!)

And my StepDad made his world famous Yakisoba (Japanese style chow mein). He even did a whole separate batch just for me, chicken free – What a guy!

Needless to say, we were all stuffed to the gills.


I learned a lot this holiday season.

I learned that my family loves me and supports me in everything and anything I do.

I learned that my friends are amazingly supportive wonderful people without whom I would be lost.

I learned that P is even more on board and behind me than I ever realised. He would stop and read every lable on every SINGLE thing that someone tried to feed me and announce that YES, she can have this, or NO, this has whey, lactose or whatnot in it … AMAZING. My heart thumped each time.

It is now the start of a new year, a new decade and I can feel down to tips of my toes that this is just the beging of something special.

Spicy Hash Browns

This was also served for the fam on Christmas morn and there was not a stitch left over. These babies are now a permanent fixture of my Sunday Brunch Menu


4 medium potatoes, peeled, grated and squeezed dry
1/2 cup carrot, grated
3 green onions, diced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cayenne
salt/pepper, to taste
1 tbsp safflower oil

Pre heat over to 350 degrees

Combine potatoes, carrots and onions in a large bowl

Add in cumin, cayenne and salt/pepper using your hands to incorporate

Warm oil in skillet over medium heat

Add in potato mixture and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally as to not have potatoes stick.

Put mixture into a small over safe dish (or if your skillet is oven safe just use that) and bake for about 10 minutes or until top is golden brown.

Raspberry Chocolate Chip Pancakes

I made these for my Dad and Bro on Christmas morning and they were a total hit! I mean really, who doesn’t like raspberries and chocolate?


1 1/3 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp agave nectar
1 cup soy milk
1/3 cup carbonated water
1 tbsp oil
1 cup frozen raspberries
1/3 cup vegan chocolate chips
Refined coconut oil for frying

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a large bow.

In a separate bowl, combine agave nectar, milk, water and oil.

Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until just combined, don’t over mix!

Fold in raspberries and chocolate chips

Heat skillet over medium heat, melting 1 tsp of coconut oil in pan

Using an oiled 1/3 cup to measure, drop pancake batter into the skillet

Cook until edged being to firm up and bubbles appear in the centre

Flip and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes

TIP: To keep the pancakes warm while I finish up, I heat my oven up to about 360 degrees, keeping a plate with the finished cakes warming, adding the new ones as they are cooked,