Month: July 2011

Product Review: Daiya Pepperjack

I finally tried the Daiya Pepperjack that I picked up at the Simple Market; I will definitely be going back for more. Maybe it helps to have the cheez in the middle of two hot things- like a quesadilla or a sandwich, rather than a pizza, but the pepperjack melts very well.

One of the first vegan blogs I came across in my journey to becoming vegan is What the hell does a vegan eat anyway? Right up there with “where do you get your protein” is “what do you eat.” And this blog answers the latter. Sometimes they post recipes, but sometimes they just post pictures of their delicious dinners. And that’s what prompted me to finally open the Daiya – last week’s Grilled Corn, Mushroom Quesadillas & Guacamole. (Thanks for the idea, Tofu!)

It melts!

This was a very good meal (earned an H’s fav tag!) The quesadillas had sauteed garlic, mushroom, red pepper and jalapeno (the ridiculously hot ones from the farm stand, I have about 50 of them, so we’ll be drinking lots of water this week). I also added cilantro and green onion. The Daiya melted relatively quickly and it tastes like “real” pepperjack cheese. It’s my new favorite flavor of Daiya.

FYI: Matt & Nat bags are on sale at Pure Citizen until Friday! Go buy a cute bag made out of recycled plastic bottles!

Martha Stewart Monday: Wax-Bean Salad with Chorizo-Style Seitan

Wax beans were on sale 2 for $5.00 at the farmers market. I hate prepping beans, I don’t know why I keep buying them. I veganized this recipe with Upton Natural’s Chorizo-style seitan.  I also made a spicy swiss chard dish.

Wax-Bean Salad with Chorizo-Style Seitan


  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 package Chorizo-style seitan, crumbled
  • 2 large shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 farmers market sized boxes of wax beans, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper


In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Add shallot to skillet and cook, stirring, until it begins to brown, 2 minutes. Add beans and 1/4 cup water. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook until water evaporates and beans are crisp-tender, about 6 minutes. Add seitan to skillet and stir in vinegar and parsley. Season with salt and pepper, if needed.

Spicy Chard with Ginger

I could not even taste the ginger; this was so spicy. I could not stop coughing while I was cooking this dish. I used farm stand jalapenos, so maybe they are more potent? I This is the hottest dish that I have ever made. Even worse than the time I halved only the seitan and didn’t remove the seeds of 6 jalapenos in an Ethiopian recipe.


  • 1 bunch Swiss chard
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 sliced jalapenos
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper


Separate stems and leaves from Swiss chard. Chop leaves and dice stems small. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high. Add chard stems, minced peeled fresh ginger, and jalapeno slices; cook until stems soften, 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add chard leaves, cover, and cook until wilted, 3 minutes. Uncover and cook until tender, 4 minutes.

Butterbeer Cake – Part 2

Last weekend I made butterbeer cupcakes. To make 12 cupcakes, I halved the cake recipe. I filled them with a butterscotch filling, topped them with buttercream frosting and drizzled a milky brown rice syrup over the top.

Butterscotch Creme Filling

  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon agar powder
  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot
  • 6 ounces silken tofu
  • 1/8 cup brown sugar
  • 1 package butterscotch pudding mix

Pour 1/2 cup of almond milk and agar powder into a small saucepan.  Cook mixture over medium heat and stir constantly.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 4 minutes.

Pour arrowroot into remaining 1/2 cup of almond milk and whisk until combined.  Pour into the agar mixture, stirring constantly.  It will get thick in about 1-2 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to cool in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

In a blender, crumble tofu, sugar, arrowroot/agar mixture and butterscotch pudding mix.  Blend until creamy. Place creme filling in a container with a lid and chill in the refrigerator for at least another hour.

Milky Brown Rice Syrup

  • 1/2 cup brown rice syrup
  • 1/8 cup almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot

In a saucepan, heat almond milk over medium heat and whisk in arrowroot.  When combined, add in brown rice syrup and stir constantly until melted. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for a minute. Remove from heat and allow it to cool completely before drizzling.

To Assemble

I use a chopstick to poke a hole in the top of the cupcake. Using a pastry bag, fill each cupcake with butterscotch creme filling. It should feel much heavier when it is filled. Swirl buttercream frosting on the top and drizzle the milky brown rice syrup over the top.

A Long Ride + Zucchini

Today I joined my running friends for a 31 mile bike ride on the McHenry Prairie Trail and the Fox River Trail.  We were delayed due to rain, but we finally took off around 10:30.  We biked from Crystal Lake to Elgin and stopped in East Dundee for lunch at the Measuring Cup Cafe.  It’s an adorable little cafe, but doesn’t offer many vegan options.  I got a fruit salad and a peanut butter sandwich.

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The gang


The rain delay allowed me to make zucchini bread this morning. I had 5 organic zucchinis from the Chicago farmers market and picked up two yellow ones at the Woodstock farmers market. This was my first time I made zucchini bread and I did not carefully read the instructions, so I pureed the zucchini in with the sugar, oil, applesauce & flax seed mixture. The recipe is from the Joy of Vegan Baking. It’s good, but it’s very sweet. At least it turned out better than the pumpkin bread recipe.

For dinner I made a green and yellow zucchini tart with cashew cheese and creamy zucchini soup.

Zucchini Tart

  • 1 green zucchini
  • 1 yellow zucchini
  • 1 recipe of cashew cheese sauce (using very little water)
  • 1 pie crust (I made the easy pie crust from Vegan Brunch)
  • 1 head of roasted garlic
  • 1 tablespoon or so of pesto paste
  • Italian seasoning

Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Make pie crust, pierce it a few times with a fork and bake for 10-15 minutes.  Meanwhile, make cashew cheese sauce and thinly slice the zucchini.

After taking the crust out of the oven, spread cashew cheese sauce and put a layer of zucchini around the edge, alternating yellow and green. Then move to the inner circle. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning and spread roasted garlic and pesto paste over the zucchini. Repeat with another layer of zucchini. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning and spray everything with olive oil.  Bake for 45 minutes.

Creamy Zucchini Soup

  • 3 medium zucchinis, sliced
  • 2 small red onions, diced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 can of white beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1/4 cup of veggie chick’n broth
  • splash of almond milk
  • 1-2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • red pepper flakes, salt & pepper to taste

Bring a pot of water to boil, add zucchini, bring back to a boil for 3 minutes. Drain zucchini and puree with beans in a food processor. In the same pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat and saute onion until tender.  Add red pepper flakes and lemon zest and cook for a minute or two. Add zucchini mixture, lemon juice, and broth.  Use immersion blender to make even smoother, add a splash of almond milk and simmer for 5 minutes.

Federal Plaza Farmers Market

On Tuesday, I had to go to court in Chicago, which meant that I would miss the Woodstock Farmers Market. I was pleasantly surprised to see a market right across the street from the courthouse. The Federal Plaza Farmers Market is every Tuesday from 7 a.m. -3 p.m. There was a lot of good stuff. I bought two bunches of basil and two bunches of kale, onions, green beans, zucchini, and berries.

Wednesday’s dinner revolved around kale, the poster vegetable of veganism.

(On a cart return at Whole Foods in Birmingham, AL)

Curry Lentils with Kale

Serves 4

  • 1 bunch of kale, de-stemmed and chopped
  • 2 cups of lentils
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 box brown rice couscous

Steam kale for 3-5 minutes, remove from hot water and soak in an ice bath. Toast seeds in cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Stir constantly to avoid burning. Add a teaspoon of olive oil and sauté onion and garlic until onions are tender. Stir in lentils and remaining spices. Add kale. Cook until lentils are hot.

Serve over brown rice couscous.

I also made some Spicy Kale Chips for the first time. Kale chips are everywhere and for good reason. These are some tasty treats.

Tonight was all about the basil. I made a big batch of walnut-basil pesto and served it over brown rice noodles and green beans. Sometimes when I get an idea for dinner, but have second thoughts over whether the combination in my head will translate to the plate, I do a search of foodgawker. Happily, someone else had made pesto with green beans. She also used black olives. I had kalamata olives, so I threw those in. It was good except for the green beans, but that was just a bad box of green beans, not the recipe’s fault.

Martha Stewart Monday: Cold Udon Noodles with “Crab” & Cucumber

Tonight I tried “Vegan Crab” from the Chinatown market and made Cold Udon with Crab and Cucumber.


  • Coarse salt
  • 8 ounces udon (or soba)
  • 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 5 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • 2 teaspoons unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon (or more) Asian chili sauce, preferably sriracha
  • 1/4 teaspoon yuzu juice (lemon juice/lime juice/vinegar mix if you don’t have access to yuzu)
  • 1 package vegan crab
  • 1/2 cucumber, julienned
  • 1 cup sprouts, preferably radish, trimmed (I used gourmet sprouts, because I’m fancy like that)
  • 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds


  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add udon, and cook until al dente. Drain, and rinse. Drizzle with just enough sesame oil to coat. Spread on a baking sheet, and refrigerate 10 minutes.
  2. Combine sesame oil, soy sauce, grapeseed oil, vinegar, chili sauce, and juice.
  3. Cook “crab” according to package (pan fry method)
  4. Divide udon among bowls. Top with crabmeat, cucumber, sprouts, and sesame seeds. Drizzle with dressing.
This does not go with Udon noodles at all, but I also made an Arugula Salad. I did use some soy parm, but I added capers to replace the saltiness that the cheese would add.


  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1.5 tablespoons capers with juice
  • 1 pound (2 to 3 bunches) arugula
  • Soy Parmesan cheese


  1. In a small jar or bowl, combine lemon zest and juice with olive oil, coarse salt, and ground pepper; shake or whisk to combine.
  2. Wash arugula and remove stems; place leaves in a large bowl; toss with dressing and capers. Sprinkle with soy parmesan

Both dishes were good, but the udon gets the coveted title of “H’s favorite.” The “crab” was something different and it went well with the noodles and dressing.

Veganizing Harry Potter

The last installment of the Harry Potter movies came out this weekend. It was great to see the end, but sad that it is all over. In honor of Harry, Hermione & Ron and their seven years of adventures, I made Quidditch Player’s Pie (like shepherd’s but with broomsticks and snitches instead of hooks and sheepdogs) and butterbeer cake.

Quidditch Player’s Pie

(modified from here)

  • 1 cup dry lentils
  • 1 packet dry onion soup mix (double check ingredients, some have milk)
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 10 oz pkg frozen peas and carrots (or 3/4 cup chopped baby carrots and 3/4 cup frozen green beans if you think frozen peas are gross)
  • Enough mashed potatoes to cover (see below)
  1. Cook lentils (pour into 3-4 cups of boiling water and simmer until soft).
  2. In a skillet, add water and onion soup mix. Cover and cook 5 minutes. Whisk flour into milk. Add to skillet, and cook, stirring until a nice gravy forms. Add cooked lentils and veggies. Stir to combine. If you are using fresh carrots, simmer for a bit longer so they soften up a bit.
  3. Spray a casserole dish. Put lentil mixture on bottom. Cover with mashed potatoes. Bake in 350˚F oven about 15 minutes or until mixture is hot.

Mashed potatoes:

  • 2-3 potatoes peeled and cut
  • 1/4 to 2/3 cup almond milk
  • heaping tablespoon of margarine
  • 4 heaping teaspoons of nutritional yeast
  • salt & pepper to taste

Boil potatoes until soft. Drain and mash with a fork. Add almond milk and continue to mash until smooth. Add margarine, nutritional yeast and salt and pepper and combine. Taste and adjust accordingly.

Butterbeer Cake

The cake is really good, but the frosting could use some tweaking. It tastes delicious, but the consistency is off. Maybe it would have been better to add butterscotch pudding mix into the frosting rather than adding pudding. I’ll tell you what I did, but only so you know what not to do.


  • 2.5 cups flour
  • 4 tablespoons arrowroot
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup cream soda (I used Goose Island Vanilla Cream Soda, which is amazing!)
  • 2/3 cup oil
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla


  • 3/4 cup margarine
  • 1/2 cup non-hydrogenated shortening
  • lots of powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 box butterscotch pudding
  • 1 3/4 cup almond milk

Preheat oven to 350 F. Whisk apple cider vinegar into almond milk and set aside. Mix flour, arrowroot, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. In another bowl, combine sugars (white and brown), almond milk mixture, cream soda, oil and vanilla extract. Create a well in the middle of the flour mixture and pour in the liquid mixture. Stir until no large lumps remain. Pour into two greased 8-9 inch round cake pans. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 35 minutes (I forgot to time it). Cool completely before frosting.

Combine almond milk and pudding mix. With electric beaters, combine margarine and shortening. Add cups of powdered sugar one at a time until desired sweetness. Pour in half a cup of pudding mixture into frosting. When cake is cool, frost cake and drizzle remaining pudding mixture across (the pudding won’t firm up with non-dairy milk).

Here you can see the frosting about to slide off

Another idea I had is mixing the butterscotch pudding with silken tofu and using that as the middle layer, frosting it with buttercream frosting and then drizzing a vegan butterscotch sauce across the top.

Have a Six Flags Day

Not sure what a “six flags day” entails, but I was told to have one numerous times throughout the day. Based on how the day went, I can only assume it means “busy.”

I woke up late, at 5:45 a.m., and had 25 minutes to get dressed, grab a cup of coffee and something to eat, and drive 15-20 minutes to Crystal Lake. Somehow I managed, except for the getting something to eat part. I tried, but I could not make myself eat very much of a grape nut peanut bar (grape nuts, brown rice syrup & peanut butter- they are good, but very dense). We ran almost 15 miles and I went home as soon as we got back to the store, which was 30 minutes later than expected. I drove home, took a shower, put on lots of sunscreen, ate a bowl of cereal and made the trip out to Six Flags Great America.


We walked around the park a bit while we waited for our friends. We rode the Dark Knight roller coaster, which is a space mountain type ride. It is a ridiculously short ride. Then H made me do the ladder climb, which is pretty fun, but would be much easier if I wasn’t sliding around in my flip flops.


I sneaked in a clif bar so I could have some protein.  You are not allowed to bring in food unless you have a “dietary restriction.”  I would hope that Six Flags would allow vegans to bring in something, but, to avoid any confrontation, I hid the bar under my swimsuit. I would gladly pay $10 for a veggie burger, Six Flags, but you don’t offer one. Not even at Johnny Rocket’s, where they normally serve a vegan Boca burger. Anyway, this was my lunch: a plate of fries.  Good thing I ran 15 miles.20110717-093524.jpg

We rode a few roller-coasters and the log flume and went to the water park. Unfortunately, the water park closed at 7, so we only got to do one slide.

Our last ride was the carousel. We rode on the top level, where there were just boring horses. The lower level had pigs, cats, camels, giraffes and dragons, as well as horses.

20110717-093544.jpgBefore leaving, I got an icee. It looks pretty, but probably not worth $8. H & I were thinking of how to reuse the cup. I said it was going to be my new running water bottle. If only I could layer flavors of Gatorade.

After leaving the park, we went out for dinner at Ichiban Steakhouse. We just had sushi on Friday night, so I tried the vegetable hibachi dinner. The chef kept my vegetables away from the meat and used a different utensil for serving.

My vegetables on the grill (with the dead animals blacked out).

Building an onion volcano

Onion volcano erupts

The final product

Udon, Eggplant, & Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream

Tonight I did a gingery, garlicky tempeh and served it with brown rice udon noodles. I picked up a bag of eggplants from the Chinese market last Sunday, so I also made an authentic Chinese eggplant dish.


  • 2 packages of tempeh, cubed
  • 1/3 cup of soy sauce
  • 1-2 inch knob of ginger, grated
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 -2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Steam tempeh for 10 minutes. This makes it a little less bitter and allows the marinade to soak in. While the tempeh is steaming, whisk together all the other ingredients. Marinate the tempeh for several hours (I make the marinade in the morning and let it sit all day).

Preheat oven to 400 and pour marinated tempeh onto cookie sheet and bake for about 20 minutes, until it is slightly browned. Reserve any extra marinade.

Udon Noodles

Serves 4

Cook udon according to package.

Saute onion in a little olive oil for a minute or two. Add garlic and cook until onion is a little brown. Add swiss chard and stir constantly to make sure it doesn’t burn. Add water and “beef” broth and simmer for a few minutes.

When noodles are done, drain and return to pot. Add broth mixture and combine. Mix in tempeh cubes. Stir in the extra marinade.

Steamed Eggplant

This is a delicious, authentic Chinese eggplant recipe (and I use that term loosely as it is more like a guideline). I asked H if I could share the “secret” family recipe on the blog and he said sure, because it’s so vague. Lucky you!

  • 4 Chinese eggplants (I used 5 because there were 5 in the bag)
  • garlic, chopped
  • oil
  • red pepper flakes
  • green onions, sliced
  • sugar
  • soy sauce

I cut the eggplant in thirds or halves (depending on how long, you’re going for pieces about 1.5-2 inches long), then quartered those pieces. Steam for about 10 minutes.

Saute garlic in oil until a little brown. Add sugar, red pepper flakes, soy sauce and green onion and stir fry until green onion is cooked. Coat steamed eggplant in soy sauce mixture and serve. H said I got the proportions right (probably just lucky). He said it deserves an H’s favorite tag.

For dessert, we had chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream from Vegan Scoop. Better than the black raspberry, in my opinion.