Rosemary Mushroom Risotto

 
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Ahh, risotto. Creamy, luxurious, and incredibly satisfying, this dish is a quintessential classic. There are many different variations out there and one of the more popular combinations is with mushrooms and peas. Sounds good to me! In my vegan rendition, since we are not adding any dairy cheese or cream, I like to create a strong depth of flavor with mustard and miso (a trick I learned while working as a server in a restaurant in NYC). The tang from the mustard and cheesiness from the miso works wonders for the creamy rice known as 'Arborio'. My other secret weapon is rosemary. This powerful herb offers a very strong savory flavor that is earthy and robust. It works beautifully with rice and mushrooms. In regards to risotto, I think people are intimidated, but I am here to prove to all of you that it's really not that bad! Matter of fact, it's quite simple. The most important ingredient is time. Instead of cooking the grains in one large amount of water all at the same time, you slowly add it, little by little. The rice slowly absorbs the liquid and the result is a luxuriously creamy dish. The key here is to only add a warm liquid so that it cooks perfectly. That’s why you heat up the vegetable broth before cooking. As for the veggies, I like to add asparagus and blanched fava beans for a nice crunch and variation in texture, but you could add whatever vegetables you like. Frozen peas work beautifully! When making this dish, I recommend serving it immediately as that’s when it’s best. A crusty piece of bread works as the perfect vehicle to help scrape the sides of bowl- just sayin’.

Rosemary Mushroom Risotto

Serves 4 to 6, gluten free

8 cups vegetable broth (low- or no-sodium)
3 tablespoons vegan butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms caps, packed
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced rosemary
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 ½ cups arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
1 ½ tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 ½ tablespoon mellow white miso
Vegan parmesan, shredded, to taste
Sea salt and pepper, to taste

Vegetable Options:

1 to 2 cups frozen peas
1 cup Fava beans, blanched and peeled
1 to 2 cups asparagus tips, raw

1. Add broth to a small pot and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover and set aside.

2. Melt butter over medium heat then add olive oil, mushrooms, onions, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Sauté for 5 minutes until onions are soft. Add garlic, rosemary, nutritional yeast and arborio rice. Stirring often, cook for an additional 3-4 minutes until garlic is soft and rice is toasted. Add the wine, mustard, and miso and mix well. Cook for a few more minutes until the wine has evaporated, stirring frequently so the bottom doesn’t burn.

3. Once the wine is evaporated, add 1 cup of warm broth to the rice mixture. Continue to cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the broth is absorbed. Repeat this step, adding the broth in 1 cup increments, until risotto becomes thick and creamy. This should take about 20-30 minutes. If the risotto seems done, give it a taste and you will now. The rice should be chewy, firm, yet tender. You may not use all of the broth and that’s ok. Don’t have a melt down.

4. At this point, you can fold in whatever vegetables you are using along with the shredded vegan parm. Give it a taste and season with salt and pepper to your liking. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the asparagus is tender and the peas are bright green. Remove from heat and serve immediately.

Tip

To garnish, I like to fry up some additional sliced mushrooms to place on top, as well as some blanched vegetables (especially peas!). That’s because I’m a food stylist and I want it to look extra pretty. You totally don’t have to do this! But if you’d like to impress someone, I suggest that you do. ;)

Magnolia Holiday Print

 
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Dear Readers,

I am so thrilled to announce that I will be offering this limited edition ‘Magnolia’ image from the cookbook as a fine art print. This 8 x 10 inch image will be printed on acid free paper, signed, and shipped directly to you doorsteps! If you didn’t know, the magnolia is the Mississippi state flower, so this image is very special to me and the cookbook.

The only way to receive this print is to purchase a copy of my cookbook between NOW, December 10th and December 25th [US residents only!]. After this period ends, the prints will be printed and shipped out the first week of the new year! If you have already purchased the book, this would be a great opportunity to buy one as a gift for someone. :)

You can purchase the cookbook from any vendor (local book store, Amazon, Book Depository, etc). I have attached some popular options below for easy access. If you’d like to learn more about the book, please check out my page dedicated to it!

Once purchased simply take a screenshot or a picture (if you have a physical copy from a local book store) of the receipt with the date. Please send the image of the receipt to this email: mississippivegan.pr@gmail.com with the following information:

  1. Your full name

  2. Address

  3. Phone Number

  4. The receipt image

Once approved, you will receive a confirmation e-mail from me.

This incentive is designed to be a fun perk for supporting my book during the holiday seasons which will will help my brand become stronger so that I can continue to create free content for all of you. I hope that you enjoy this opportunity and I look forward to sending out the prints!

Warmly,

Timothy Pakron





Black Bean Spread

 
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There’s nothing quite like a crowd pleasing appetizer to offer at a gathering or bring to a party. A quick and easy idea is to create a delicious spread with a drizzle of olive oil and a dusting of spice. By placing the spread in the middle of a platter loaded with colorful vegetables, crunchy crostini and salty olives - it’s the perfect dish for a party. Everyone can grab exactly what they want, and there is no fuss! Not to mention, a spread like this can be made a few days in advance and can handle sitting out on the table for a few hours. For this variation, I am teaming up with Amy’s (whom I just love!) to bring you a black bean spread. Talk about an effective shortcut, I start this recipe off with their refried black beans, which are already loaded with flavor. Then I doctor them up with additions like caramelized garlic, fresh lime juice, cumin and smoked paprika. Yum! Feel free to push and pull this recipe to your liking: instead of using garlic, try minced shallots. Instead of using smoked paprika, try sweet paprika. A pinch of curry powder? Sure! Freshly chopped oregano or cilantro would be a lovely addition as well. Once the dip is surrounded by an array of delicious dipping options, you’ve got yourself a lovely holiday appetizer.

Black Bean Spread

Serves 6 to 8 as an appetizer

2 cans Amy’s Refried Black Beans
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more to drizzle
2 - 3 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch of cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

1. Add the beans to a medium-sized mixing bowl. Squeeze on the lime juice and add the onion powder and garlic powder. Mix well and set aside.

2. Add the olive oil and garlic to a skillet and bring to medium heat, stirring every so often with a spatula. Cook for a good 5 to 6 minutes until the garlic becomes soft and golden. Lower the heat just a tad and add the oregano, cumin, cayenne pepper, nutritional yeast and smoked paprika. Continue to stir and cook for another 4 to 5 minutes. The mixture will look thick and bubbly. Once your kitchen smells outrageous and the garlic is fully caramelized, transfer to the bowl of beans and scrape every last drop out.

3. Mix everything together vigorously. Give it a taste and season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper to your liking. Transfer to a pretty bowl and garnish with a dusting of smoked paprika and a drizzle of olive oil.

To dip:

You can use any assortment of vegetables, such as carrots, sugar snap peas, green beans bell peppers. If you are going to add a crunchy green vegetable, like green beans, asparagus or broccoli florets, I suggest that you lightly steam them or pour boiling water on then rinse them with cold water. This gets rid of that chalky raw taste and makes them more enjoyable.

A fun option as well are thinly sliced apples and crunchy crostini or any kind of cracker. I also love using olives and other pickled vegetables, from the olive bar, like artichoke hearts and baby peppers, for a variety of color and texture. Salted and roasted Marcona almonds also pair beautifully with this dip. If you’ve never made crostini, here’s a super simple recipe.

Crostini

1 good baguette
Olive oil
Sea salt
Nutritional yeast

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Slice the baguette into ½ thick slices. Drizzle some olive oil onto a small plate. Press one side of a bread slice into the oil until coated.

2. Place the slice oil side up on the baking sheet and repeat this until all the slices are coated. Sprinkle with sea salt and nutritional yeast and bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes until the edges are golden brown.

Tips

The whole point of a vegetable platter like this is to have fun and make it gorgeous! Think lots of color and enticing textures. I definitely recommend hitting up your local farmers market for unique produce and fresh herbs to garnish.

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One-Pot Pasta Bolognese

 
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This one-pot pasta bolognese is incredibly delicious and satisfying. Bolognese is a traditional Italian meat sauce cooked with wine and some heavy cream. The results are a rich and flavorful sauce which can be served with any kind of pasta you desire. I love using thick spaghetti noodles, as featured in the picture above, but I also recommend using fettuccini or regular spaghetti for this rendition. I particularly love this recipe because I have streamlined it all into ONE pot. That’s right! You simply throw the noodles in once the sauce is loaded with tons of seasonings and spices and they cook perfectly, absorbing all of the flavors while still becoming delightfully squooshy. To start, vegan sausage is crumbled and browned with onions, carrots, and celery. Once that all gets happy- garlic, fresh herbs, and crushed fire roasted tomatoes are added to the pot. I also like adding cherry tomatoes and tomato paste for extra flavor and added texture. To make the sauce creamy, I like adding in pea milk, which is available at most grocery stores these days. Feel free to use whatever unsweetened plant-based milk you prefer. Once to a simmer, you throw in the noodles and cook. The only catch is you have to stir the mixture often so that the bottom doesn’t burn. Because the noodles are cooking in a thick sauce, movement is key. I like to use a large wooden spatula to make sure the bottom is scraped and moved thoroughly. Once the noodles are al dente, you remove from heat, add some vegan cheese, and cover with a lid. Let it sit for a good 10 minutes allowing the noodles to finish cooking and you’re done! A hefty shredding of vegan parmesan cheese on top with some fresh basil and cherry tomatoes completes this beautiful dish. Serve with a simple side salad and some crusty garlic bread for an epic meal, with wine of course!

One-Pot Pasta Bolognese

serves 6 - you can halve the recipe

14 ounces beyond sausage, crumbled*
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons minced garlic
¼ cup fresh chopped flat leaf parsley
¼ cup fresh chopped basil, plus some to garnish
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
½ cup red wine
3 cups crushed fire roasted tomatoes (one 28 ounce can)
¾ cup tomato paste (one 6 ounce can)
1 cup chopped cherry tomatoes
2 cups pea milk, plus some if needed*
2 cups filtered water
1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 lb pasta noodles
¼ cup shredded vegan parmesan cheese, plus more to garnish


1. In a large pot or large dutch oven, add the sausage, onions, carrots, celery and olive oil and bring to medium heat. Add a pinch of sea salt and pepper and stir with a large wooden spatula. Cook for about 6 minutes, until the vegetables are softened, stirring often. Use the spatula to break up the sausage into a crumbly texture.

2. Throw in the garlic and cook for a few minutes (2 to 3), until softened. Add the parsley, basil, thyme, oregano, and nutritional yeast. Cook for an additional 4 minutes, stirring often. Pour in the red wine and scrape the bottom of the pan. Add the canned tomatoes and continue to scrape so that there is nothing stuck to the bottom.

3. Next, add the tomato paste, cherry tomatoes, pea milk, filtered water, sea salt, black pepper, and noodles. Turn the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer, stirring often. Once to a simmer, reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook for about 15 minutes, stirring often. Towards the 15 minute mark, test a noodle. (If using a thinner noodle, maybe check around 13 minutes as they will cook quicker). Once the noodles are al dente (cooked yet slightly hard), remove from heat, mix in the cheese, and cover with a lid. Let sit for 10 minutes to let the noodles finish cooking.

4. After 10 to 15 minutes, remove the lid and give it a stir. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If you’d like to loosen it up, add a few more splashes of milk and mix. Serve in bowls and garnish with freshly shaven vegan parmesan and basil leaves. You could also throw on some halved cherry tomatoes because it’s pretty!

Tips

I highly recommend using the Hot Italian Beyond Sausage (or any of their flavors if you can’t find this one). You could use another brand of vegan sausage (or a homemade recipe), but this has the perfect texture, flavoring, and fat content for this dish in particular.

You can make this a day ahead and keep in the fridge. It will thicken up considerably once chilled, so when you are ready to heat it back up, I recommend adding some more milk and baking it in the oven, covered. I would advise against heating it up on the stovetop as it could burn easily (because it is much thicker when cold). If you are heating up a small amount, you could use the stove top, just make sure to keep it moving!

I personally love the Ripple brand of unsweetened pea milk for this recipe. I find that it has just the right creamy texture.

The dish featured above is 4 quarts, which would be perfect if you halved the recipe. If you are going to make the full recipe, I recommend using a large pot or large dutch oven so you have plenty of wiggle room. It’s not fun to cook a sauce that’s all the way up to the brim, it can be quite stressful!

Cookbook Clarifications & faqs

 
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Dear Readers,

Now that my cookbook is out, I have had some frequently asked clarifications and questions come up in regards to a few of the recipes. I decided to create this very blog post so that all of my answers can be organized in one place for efficiency.

Since the book’s release, a few errors have been brought to my attention. These will be updated for the 2nd edition printing. That said, I wanted to inform all of you that even though every recipe was tested, some of the updates and feedback slipped through the cracks, which I address below. I sincerely apologize for this!

I truly hope that this page helps all of you and allows for your cooking experience to be informed and fun. If you have any other questions or concerns, please submit them to me here and I will add them to this page. Feel free to leave a comment below, as well!

Thank you!

Timothy Pakron


clarifications & Corrections

Scalloped Root Casserole (page 221)

The roots should be sliced 1/16th of an inch, not 1/4th of an inch. I’ve had people tell me it still works at 1/4th of an inch but it takes longer to cook.

Gumbo z’Fungi (page 151)

For this gumbo, I call for a homemade mushroom stock. The printed recipe calls for 12 ounces of dried shiitake mushrooms when it should be 2 ounces. Yikes! That would be an insane amount of mushrooms. I also forgot to mention when to incorporate the chopped mushrooms into the recipe. They should be added in step 7 when you add the broth and bay leaves.

Sweet Onion Soup (page 130)

Again, the mushroom stock should be made with 2 ounces of dried mushrooms, not 12.

My Father’s Hash Browns (page 51)

In the headnote I mention using shallots but they are not listed in the ingredients. They are optional and if you’d like to use them, add ‘1 small shallot, chopped’ to the onion mixture and cook accordingly.

Creole Spice Blend (page 250)

I’ve had some readers ask how much of the ‘Creole Spice Blend’ to use in the gumbo recipes. You use the whole batch on page 250 for each gumbo recipe.

Mama’s Pralines (page 243)

In the headnote, I mention using vegan butter while recreating the traditional recipe. After testing it, my Mama and I decided that because vegan butter has water, this made the pralines too liquidity. Because the coconut cream is so rich, we decided that the recipe didn’t even need the butter! Therefore, the recipe is correct as is with no vegan butter.


FAQs

How many recipes are gluten-free (out of 125 recipes)?

Totally Gluten Free: 82

Gluten-Free Friendly : 20
By subbing gluten free bread for the sandwiches or croutons, crust for desserts, sorghum flour for gumbo roux.

I made the ‘Skillet Cornbread’ on page 63 and it was delicious but crumbly. Is this how it’s supposed to be?

Yes! Since there already is a more fluffy cornbread containing wheat flour in the book, I wanted to have a more dense and solely cornmeal based cornbread for a more classic and gluten free option. This inevitably makes for a more crumbly cornbread. Do remember not to over mix the batter, as this will make it even more crumbly. I also recommend serving hot and straight out of the skillet.

Your gumbo is amazing but it makes a lot! Can I halve the recipe?

Yes, I know it does! LOL. And honestly, it’s just the way my Mom taught me how to make it. Of course you can halve the recipe, but I think if you are going to go to all the effort to make this recipe you should just make the full batch. It keeps well in the fridge for leftovers and it freezes beautifully. It’s also a lovely gift to give to someone!

Can I use the ‘Hummingbird Cake’ batter on page 239 to make cupcakes?

Yes! The batter works perfectly for a 12 well cupcake pan. You can also use the batter to make round cake layers (I’ve seen this done on Instagram) and also mini-cupcakes (I personally love doing this)!

For the ‘Salisbury Steak’ recipe on page 190, there are no mushrooms listed under the ‘Mushroom Onion Gravy’- are they missing?

No sweetheart, they are used earlier in the recipe when the steaks are cooking. You make the gravy with them after the steaks are removed from the skillet and they are browned and delicious along with the onions. Look on page 192 and you’ll see 1/2 pound of sliced cremini mushrooms listed.

Should I cover the slow cooked red beans on page 169 when they are cooking?

I actually don’t cover my red beans. That way, the brothy liquid evaporates and cooks down. More water is added if needed to achieve a thick gravy texture.

For the sweet potato casserole (page 214), the marshmallows ballooned up without browning. Any tips for making the marshmallows brown for the sweet potato casserole?

Make sure to only cover the sweet potato mash with the marshmallows and not to stuff too many in the dish. This will make them overflow while baking! If they are ballooning too much without browning, simply remove from the oven and let them deflate a bit. Crank up the heat to 400 degrees F and pop back in for a few minutes to brown. Although risky, you could pop the casserole under the broiler but please watch very carefully!

My biscuits/cornbread didn’t rise and become fluffy! What went wrong?

I’ve had this happen to two readers now. Upon further investigation, each reader came to realize that their baking powder was expired! To avoid this, I recommend buying baking powder in small amounts so that it is replaced often. If you’d like to test your baking powder, simply add a teaspoon to a cup and pour over 1/3rd a cup of hot water. If it bubbles, you are good. If nothing happens, it’s old!

When you make biscuits, do you use soft wheat flour? Or do you get same results with other kinds of all purpose flour?

I’ve used both a standard AP flour and also a soft wheat flour for my biscuits and I would say that the results are great for either. But I would say that when using White Lily Flour, which is a soft winter wheat, the biscuits are a bit fluffier and softer. That’s my preferred flour for biscuits, cakes, and cookies. For bread recipes like bagels or focaccia, I prefer to use King Arthur’s bread flour.

You call for red wine in your gumbo recipes, what kind do you recommend?

I like to use a bold and dark red wine, like a Malbec, but you could also use Merlot or a Cabernet.

How long will the shiitake bacon last in the fridge?

Honestly, because most of the moisture is cooked out of the mushrooms and there is so much salt, it should last for a good while- I’d say a week max (probably longer but just to be safe). One other trick is lay it back out on a sheet pan and pop into a preheated oven (350 degrees F) to crispy it back up! Not to long though, only a few minutes. My question for you is how do you have any left over? Mine doesn’t last more than a few hours!


Holiday Pizza

 
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This holiday pizza is the perfect crowd pleaser. I love that it uses leftover scraps of holiday ingredients like hazelnuts, brussels sprouts, and cranberry sauce. The best part is the recipe starts with a delicious Amy’s frozen pizza as the base, which makes it super fast and super easy. (I always have 1 or 2 as a backup in the freezer!) It’s the perfect solution for serving to family or guests when people are hungry and you need something quick. Feel me? The brussels sprouts are tenderized and infused with flavor before placing on top of the pizza from a splash of vinegar, sprinkling of nutritional yeast, orange zest and orange juice. This really elevates their flavor which pairs beautifully with toasted hazelnuts and cranberry sauce. I like to add dollops of any store-bought vegan nut cheese, but you could totally skip that. This recipe is all about using what you have and being super easy. After the pizza is baked in the oven, I love adding fresh oregano for a pop of color and fresh flavor. Do note that I’ve made this pizza multiple times now and I can honestly say that I love it and I think you will to.


Holiday Pizza

Serves 4 to 6

¼ cup hazelnuts, peeled
1 ½ cups quartered brussels sprouts (white bottoms removed)
½ cup filtered water
1 teaspoon vinegar (plain, rice, or cider)
2 teaspoons nutritional yeast
½ teaspoon orange zest
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 teaspoons olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
Amy’s Roasted Vegetable Pizza
2 to 3 tablespoons desired vegan nut cheese (optional)
2 to 3 tablespoons cranberry sauce
Fresh oregano, to garnish


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.


2. Spread the hazelnuts on the baking sheet and bake them for 10 minutes, until fragrant and lightly toasted. Remove them from the oven and set aside to cool.* Once cooled, using the side of your knife, gently press down on them until they break in half or into smaller pieces. Set aside.

3. Add the brussels sprouts to a skillet, along with the water, vinegar, nutritional yeast, orange zest, orange juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Bring to medium heat, stirring every so often. Cook until liquid has evaporated and the brussels sprouts are tender to fork. Remove from heat and let cool.

4. Using the same parchment-lined baking sheet as the hazelnuts, remove the Amy’s frozen from the box and place in the middle of the pan. Artfully add the brussels sprouts. Then add ½ teaspoon dollops of the cranberry sauce scattered across the top (to make sure each slice gets some). If using cheese, repeat this step, scattering small dollops across the top. Bake in the oven for 14 minutes.

5. Once baked, remove from oven and sprinkle on the hazelnuts. Garnish with fresh oregano leaves, slice, and serve.


Tips

If you cannot find hazelnuts already peeled, you can do so at home. After they are roasted carefully transfer them to a paper towel and wrap up the edges. Rub them around until the peels flake off. It’s ok if they are not completely peeled. Don’t beat yourself up about it.

You can use whatever store-bought vegan nut cheese you desire: almond ricotta, cashew herb, etc.

This pizza is delicious cold! I tried some the next day and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it.

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Autumnal Stew

 
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Autumnal Stew

This recipe is quintessential fall. It’s loaded with curried root vegetables like beets, radishes, turnips, winter squash, and sweet potatoes. The broth is infused with loads of earthy and spicy curry powder which is the perfect warming up spice for the cool weather that’s coming in, albeit slowly here in New Orleans! Nonetheless, fall is fall and I was ready for some stew. So that’s precisely why this recipe came to fruition. I’m keeping things super simple by throwing most of the ingredients in at once in the beginning. No need to fuss. Once things are nice and tender, I introduce some garlic, ginger, vinegar, sweet mirin (a cooking wine), nutritional yeast, and tamari. All of these combined results in a super flavorful, savory, and delicious broth that becomes infused in the tender and succulent root vegetables. To be resourceful and fun, I like to throw in some of the green tops from the beets and turnips. They provide a nice body to the stew and they’re delicious! The only thing that could make this recipe any better is a fluffy grain to go on top with some toasted nuts. I chose quinoa and pecans because that screams fall to me, but do what you will with what you want. I’m not here to tell you what to do (well, kinda). Make the stew, have fun, and share it with friends.

Autumnal Stew

Serves 6 to 8

3 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 ½ cups chopped sweet potatoes
1 ½ cups chopped beets, reserve some of the tops
1 ½ cups chopped butternut squash, peeled
1 ½ cups chopped red kuri or kabocha squash, peeled
1 ½ cups chopped (or baby) turnips
4 to 5 cloves minced garlic
¼ cup chopped fresh ginger, peeled
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (duh)
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons mirin*
6 cups filtered or spring water
3 tablespoons tamari or coconut aminos
1 ½ cup chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 to 3 bay leaves
Beet greens (about 1 cup), shredded
Turnip greens (about 1 cup), shredded
Toasted Pecans, chopped (about 2 cups)
Fluffy Quinoa, a few cups
Fresh herbs, like thyme, basil, or parsley, to garnish
1 lemon, cut into slices

1. In a large pot, add olive oil, onion, sweet potatoes, beets, butternut squash, red kuri squash, and turnips. Bring to medium heat, stirring often, and cook for about 10 minutes until the onions are soft and the vegetables begin to brown.

2. Next, throw in the garlic, ginger, curry powder, nutritional yeast, and cinnamon. Cook for an additional 5 minutes, stirring often, to toast the seasonings and spices and soften the garlic.

3. Add the mirin, water, tamari, chopped tomatoes, sea salt, and bay leaves. Turn the heat up to medium high and bring to a boil. Once at a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and succulent. Once they are done, throw in the shredded beet greens and turnip greens. Give it a taste and season with salt and pepper to your liking. Cook for a few more minutes until the greens are tender.

4. To serve, remove the bay leaves and ladle the soup into pretty bowls. Add a scoop of fluffy quinoa in the middle and sprinkle on top some toasted pecans and whatever fresh herbs you desire. On the side, serve a small slice of lemon with each bowl to be squeezed on top right before consuming.

Tips

Mirin is a Japanese cooking wine that is sweet and pairs perfectly with tamari or soy sauce. It works beautifully in marinades, soups, and salad dressings. I recommend this brand.

For the quinoa, I like to add a splash of rice vinegar, a sprinkling of nutritional yeast, a few pinches of salt, a crack of pepper, and a drizzle of smoked olive oil or toasted sesame seed oil before cooking. You could also add a pinch of curry powder and cinnamon to echo the flavors in the soup.

You can totally eat the tops of beets and turnips. Just make sure to rinse them thoroughly as they can oftentimes be sandy. I don’t particularly like them raw, but once they are wilted in a hot broth, they become tender and delicious!

Jambalaya

 
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Here you have it: my jambalaya recipe. Jambalaya is a famous rice dish that was created in Louisiana with Spanish and French influences. What I love about this recipe is the cooking method. By cooking the rice with a flavorful base (instead of just using water) and adding partially browned vegetables and proteins, the rice is infused with flavor. Now, I know that the ingredient list looks long as hell, but hear me out- it’s totally worth it. I promise! All of the spices and herbs work synergistically to create an incredibly satisfying flavor, one that tickles your tastebuds and leaves you craving more and more with each bite. Traditionally, Jambalaya is served with some sort of protein so for this vegan translation I give you two options, but feel free to be creative. I particularly like using black eyed peas but chickpeas or red beans would be great too. If you are craving a more meaty texture, try using your favorite vegan sausage. As you probably already know, I am a mushroom fanatic so I love to use them for their chewy texture and earthy flavor. What I love most about this recipe is that it’s a one pot shop. Start by sautéing everything on the stove top, add your broth, bring to a sizzle, throw in the rice, and transfer it to the oven. By giving the rice that head start of sizzling broth, after 30 minutes you are left with fluffy grains of rice that have absorbed all of the deliciousness you see listed below. If you do make this, please let me know what you think in the comments below and, most importantly, enjoy.

Jambalaya

Serves 8 people (halve for 4)

⅓ cup vegan butter
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, quartered  + pinch of salt
1 can black eyed peas or 2 to 3 cups sliced vegan sausage
1 ½ cups diced onion
½ cup diced green bell pepper
1 cup diced red or yellow bell pepper
1 cup diced celery
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
½ teaspoon sweet paprika
¼ teaspoon cayenne
½ teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon dried sage
½  teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried parsley
½  teaspoon black pepper
1 ½ cup chopped tomatoes
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1 tablespoon vegan worchestire
1 tablespoon rice or cider vinegar
1 teaspoons tamari or soy sauce
½  teaspoons liquid smoke
1 (14.5 oz) can fire roasted tomatoes
2 ½ cups vegetable stock, plus more if desired
2 to 3 sprigs fresh thyme
4 bay leaves, preferably fresh
2 cups uncooked long-grain white rice
Sliced green onion, to garnish
Chopped parsley, to garnish
Cherry tomatoes, sliced to garnish

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

  2. Bring a large dutch oven to medium heat and melt the butter.  Add mushrooms and a pinch of salt and cook until all sides are golden-brown, occasionally stirring gently, about 10 minutes.

  3. If using vegan sausage, add and sauté until golden-brown, occasionally stirring,  about 5 minutes.

  4. Add onions, bell peppers, celery and garlic and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.

  5. Add onion powder, garlic powder, nutritional yeast, sweet paprika, cayenne, cumin, dried sage, dried oregano, dried parsley, and black pepper. Stir occasionally and cook for 5 minutes to toast the spices.

  6. Add chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, vegan Worcestershire, rice or cider vinegar, tamari or soy sauce, liquid smoke, fire roasted tomatoes, vegetable stock, fresh thyme, and bay leaves. Stir together and bring to a simmer. (You can leave the thyme sprigs and bay leaves whole as you will remove them at the end.)

  7. Once at a simmer, stir in the rice and the peas (if using), mix well, and cover. Place in center of oven and bake for 30 minutes. Take out of the oven and give it a taste. If the rice needs to cook longer or seems dry, drizzle some more vegetable stock on top and pop it back in the oven for a few more minutes.

  8. Once done, season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove the bay leaves and thyme sprigs and serve in bowls. Sprinkle with desired garnishes.

Tips

This dish pairs perfectly with garlic bread and simple salad. And lots of wine. ;)

If you don’t have an oven safe lid for your pot, you can use foil. Just make sure it’s tightly wrapped so that the rice cooks effectively.

You can absolutely make this a day or two before hand. Simply keep it tightly wrapped in the fridge and warm it up when ready to serve. Just make sure to keep in covered and cook it at a lower heat, like 300 degrees F, so that it doesn’t dry out.

This dish works amazingly as a burrito filling! I can attest because I’ve done it. Simply load up a tortilla, close it up, and grill it till crispy. Yum!

Garden Herb Rolls

 
 
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Garden Herb Rolls! The main concept behind this recipe is to celebrate fragrant, fresh herbs straight from the garden. By chopping the herbs up with garlic and mixing them with a simple blend of seasonings and spices, you are left with a filling that's loaded with intense flavor. By rolling that up with dough and baking it in the oven, the flavor is deeply infused throughout the fluffy bread. The end result is truly magnificent! If you don't have an herb garden, don't fret! You can easily grab some herbs from your local grocery store or farmers market. You are looking for fresh and beautiful herbs- skip the shriveled up and dried out kind that looked left behind. Go for vibrant and brightly colored. In this recipe, the lemon juice and lemon zest accentuate the flavor of the herbs, bringing them to life just a bit more. The nutritional yeast and vegan parmesan shreds pair perfectly with the savory herbs and the dough, while the olive oil provides the perfect richness. A pinch of crushed red pepper flakes and freshly cracked black pepper rounds out the flavor with a tickle of spice. 

Important Note: This recipe does take time. It's not a weeknight recipe for a busy mom. You must be patient and artful with the process. The dough needs to rise twice (once after kneaded and once after placing in the dish before baking). The herb blend needs to be made with a large amount of herbs with the woody stems picked out, which takes time. Attention to detail is a must when rolling, cutting, and transferring the rolls. If you don't have access to beautiful herbs, I do not recommend this recipe for you. Because it is rather labor intensive, you should only be using the best of the best ingredients. This will provide the results you are looking for.

Here is a video for you to look over to help you better understand the process. Thank you Patricia of @veganstars for the amazing pizza dough recipe. It's all I use now! Enjoy y'all.

Garden Herb Rolls
Makes 8 - 9 large rolls

Dough

1 cup warm water
1 teaspoon agave, maple syrup, or sugar
1 package active dry yeast (2 ¼ teaspoons)
3 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
2 ½ tablespoons olive oil

Filling

1 ½ cup freshly chopped basil (lemon, lime, blue spice, or sweet)
½ cup freshly chopped parsley, flat lead or curly, plus some to garnish
¼ cup freshly chopped thyme, plus some to garnish
¼ cup freshly chopped oregano
¼ cup freshly chopped dill or chives
1 cup Follow Your Heart vegan parmesan, plus more for sprinkling
2 tablespoons minced garlic
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
½  tablespoon rice or cider vinegar
½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
½  teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
½ cup olive oil

 

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. 

2. Mix the yeast and desired sweeter in a small bowl. Slowly add the warm water, mixing with a fork as your pour. Set aside until it becomes bubbly and happy, around 5 to 10 minutes.

3. In a large bowl, add the flour, sea salt, nutritional yeast, and olive oil. Using the same fork from the yeast mixture, blend and fluff of the flour mixture. Once the yeast is bubbly, pour over the flour mixture and using the same fork, mix until the dough combines into one large ball. 

4. Rub a small amount of olive oil on desired cutting board/clean surface to knead the dough. Rub some olive oil on your hands and trasfer the dough. Knead for a good 5 minutes until the dough becomes elastic and springy. If it is sticking to the board or your hands, add more olive oil as needed. 

5. Transfer the dough to a clean bowl with some olive oil. Roll the dough so that it's lightly coated in the oil and cover with a cloth. Place the dough in a warm spot until it doubles in size, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

6. While the dough rises, make the filling. Combine all of the ingredients into a medium sized bowl. Mix well with a fork and set aside.

7. On a cutting board or clean surface, transfer the risen dough and using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to create a rectangle, around 15" x 12". Spread the filling out on the dough in an even layer, leaving a small border of dough. Gently and tightly roll the dough up into a log. Using a very sharp knife, cut about a ½ inch off each end. (Bake these separately, they’re the duds but you can still eat 'em). Cut the roll into 8 or 9 pieces and delicately transfer them to a large cast iron skillet or baking sheet. Leave only a little amount of space in between them, as they rolls will help each other rise and form shape.

8. Cover and place in a warm spot for the second rise, an additional 40 minutes. Before popping in the oven, sprinkle the rolls with a little more cheese and a dusting of nutritional yeast. Bake for about 45 minutes, until the rolls have cooked thoroughly and they become springy and the tops are golden brown.

9. Let cool for about 10 minutes and sprinkle with freshly chopped parsley and thyme. Serve!

Lagniappe

You can use store-bought pizza dough if you'd like to take short cut. These would also be good with vegan puff pastry. Read the instructions on the package for baking temperature and time, but it should be close if not the same as this recipe. 

You need a total of 3 cups of freshly chopped herbs. You can play with the variations and amounts. I recommend using soft herbs for the base (basil, parsley, dill, and tarragon), as they are milder and tender, and small amounts of hard herbs (rosemary, thyme, oregano), as they are more concentrated in flavor and can be a bit astringent if too much is used. 

For the best texture and flavor, I highly recommend using Follow Your Heart parmesan shreds. You can, although, substitute another vegan cheese if need be.  

You can make these a day ahead. After the second rise, cover the rolls and place them in the fridge overnight. 

To check out more recipes by my friend Patricia, who created the pizza dough, check out her website.

Firecracker Green Beans

 
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Ooooh, these green beans are a kick in the mouth! That's because they are loaded with stimulating seasonings like coriander, chili powder, crushed red pepper flakes, and curry powder. They are also coated with crunchy, buttery sesame seeds and spicy mustard seeds that provide a lovely pop. Savory and fantastically spicy, these beans are an explosion of flavor in the mouth. So I had to name them after firecrackers, right? Feel free to play with the spice combination. If you don't have one or two, simply take them out and add a little more of the other stuff. And if you don't like spicy, maybe hold back on the red pepper flakes and chili powder. They will still be good. The trick to this recipe is to toss the green beans thoroughly so that they are coated with all of the seasonings. The other trick is to make sure the oven is preheated and piping hot. Green beans love to shrivel up when it's hot like that, becoming succulent and tender, while still having a slight crunch. 

1 lb green beans, tough ends removed
2 tablespoons refined coconut oil, melted
2 tablespoons tamari
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

2. Rinse and dry the green beans thoroughly (if they are too wet, they won't hold the seasonings that well and you will look silly). Transfer the beans to a large cast iron skillet, baking dish, or baking sheet (use parchment paper if so). 

3. Throw on the coconut oil, tamari, red pepper flakes, black pepper, curry powder, turmeric, coriander, cumin, chili powder, sesame seeds, mustard seeds, and nutritional yeast. 

4. Place the skillet/dish in the oven and cook for 30 minutes, tossing once halfway through. Gobble up immediately!
 

Blueberry Cobbler

 
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There's nothing quite like picking fresh blueberries right off the bush, wouldn't you say? And there's no better way to enjoy the fruits of your labor than with a cobbler. I'm sure we can all agree with that one! Now when it comes to the world of cobblers, I've noticed that they are predominately created in 3 different ways. One way is with a crust, similar to a pie, that's flakey and dense, with a top and a bottom (yum!). Another way is with a more a biscuit-like topping (also fabulous). The final other way is more of a 'cakey' fluffy batter. For this recipe I decided to go the 'cakey' route, because 1) I have so many pie and biscuit recipes in my cookbook and 2) I was in the mood. Knowing me, it's still a recipe that's all my own with results that are unique compared to traditional recipes, although some might say this was pretty darn close to a 'Texas Style' blueberry cobbler. You see, if I had to give you the best description, this creation is best described like so: If a blueberry cobbler and a blueberry muffin had a baby, this would be it. On the bottom you have piping hot blueberries that have burst and melded with tangy lemon zest and lemon juice, creating their very own jelly-like sauce. On top, you have a fluffy, moist, and decadent topping (you can thank the coconut milk for that) with a thin crispy top. The recipe also happens to be incredibly easy with only 10 ingredients. C'mon people. Find your closest u-pick, grab your basket, and get into it.

Serve 4 to 6 

3 cups blueberries, plus some for sprinkling
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
½ cup vegan butter
1 cup granulated sugar, plus some for sprinkling
1 can full fat coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon sea salt

 

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Rinse the berries and drain them well. Transfer 3 cups to a 9" x 13" baking dish, or desired dish similar in size. Add the lemon zest and lemon juice. Toss to mix and spread into an even layer. Set aside. 

3. For the batter, cream together the butter and sugar, mixing with a fork. Add the coconut milk and vanilla extract and mix well. Add the flour, baking powder, and sea salt. Mix until just combined and pour over the blueberries hanging out in the baking dish. Sprinkle with additional blueberries and desired amount of sugar on top.

4. Bake for 1 hour, depending on your oven until the top is golden and crispy. Serve immediately as is or with vanilla ice cream or coconut whipped cream.
 

Lagniappe

If you're into making your food look extra pretty like me, feel free to throw a few extra blueberries on top when there are 20 minutes left to cook. 

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Crispy Potato Tacos

 
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Ok, this has got to be one of my favorite cheap and easy meals. There is just something about this combination that's incredibly satisfying: fluffy, moist chunks of russet potatoes, tossed with a flavorful coating and baked until crispy, wrapped in a warm tortilla blanket with loads of refreshing goodness. Now, usually I like to give you guys some wiggle room with substitutions, but not for these three ingredients: russet potatoes, iceberg lettuce, soft tortillas. The combination of the starchy, fluffy russet potatoes, crispy iceberg lettuce, and the soft texture of a flour tortilla truly *makes* this recipe. As for the aioli, you can simply use any vegan mayo, or a flavored one at that. But the aioli below is not only creamy and rich, but tangy and bursting with flavor from the cilantro and lime juice, a perfect cool contrast to the spiced potatoes. I assure you, after trying this one time, it should become a new stand-by recipe for an easy weeknight dinner or a festive dinner party- buffet style. Promise.

Serves 4 to 6

Crispy Potatoes

2 lbs russet potatoes, scrubbed and rinsed
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
⅓ cup vegetable oil
Sprinkling of sea salt, to taste

Cilantro-Lime Aioli

¼ cup fresh lime juice
1 cup freshly chopped cilantro, packed
3 tablespoons minced jalapeño (optional)
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 ½ cups vegan mayo

To Assemble:

Soft flour tortillas (one package), warmed
Shredded iceberg lettuce
Thinly shaved red onion
Thinly sliced jalapeño
Fresh cilantro, to garnish
 

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line one large baking sheet with parchment paper. 

2. Cut the potatoes into bite sized chunks. In a large mixing bowl, combine the potatoes, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, nutritional yeast, and flour. Toss and mix well. Pour in the tamari, vinegar, oil and continue to mix and toss until all the pieces are coated thoroughly.

3. Spread the poatoes in an even layer on the baking sheet and cook for 25 minutes. Remove and give one piece a taste. Season with sea salt as needed. Flip with a thin spatula and shake the potatos into an even layer. Bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, to get them crispy. 

4. While the potatoes are baking, whip up the aioli. First, blend the lime juice, cilantro, jalapeño (if using), sea salt, and nutritional yeast in a small blender. Blend for a minute or two until you are left with a bright green liquid. Transfer to a small mixing bowl and add the mayo. Using a whisk, mix until smooth. Transfer to a squeeze bottle or tightly cover and keep in the fridge. 

5. Assemble the tacos by placing on some lettuce, potatoes, sliced red onion, sliced jalapeño, fresh cilantro on a warm, soft tortilla. Drizzle with the aioli and enjoy. 

 

Tips

If you look in the refrigerated section of your grocery store, you might be pleasantly surprised to find 'raw' or uncooked soft tortillas! These are the best as you can simply cook them in a pan as needed. They are fresh, so delicious, and also do not have a long list of sketchy ingredients (like most soft tortillas do). Obviously, use whatever you can find but these are ideal. 

If you like spicy, go for the jalapeño option in the aioli. The heat from every pepper is different, so maybe give it a taste before deciding on how much to add. I used 3 tablespoons, but that's just me. I don't want any complaints if the aioli is too spicy just because you buggin'. 

 

Immune Boosting Soup

 

This immune boosting soup is the first thing that I crave when a sickness begins to creep on up. And let's face it- we all get sick. There's just no way around it. No matter how much you try to prevent that nasty crud that seems to always make its rounds during this time of the year, it's just inevitable. Now, instead of complaining about it- make this soup! It's so very good for you and delicious. Wholesome, brothy, full of spicy ginger and large chunks of vegetables floating in a golden turmeric broth, this soup is the definition of health (if you need some proper evidence supporting how amazing fresh ginger and turmeric are, go ahead and google their benefits. You'll be overwhelmed with the results). Now, instead of noodles, I prefer to add spiralized butternut squash which provides another punch of nutrition. They become tender and succulent while also providing that noodle texture we all know and love. Feel free to throw in whatever greens and fresh herbs you like (or none at all). Lastly, this soup is fantastic with rice or quinoa. Enjoy. 

Serves 4 to 6

3 cups celery (about 5 to 6 stalks)
2 cups carrots (4 to 5 carrots)
2 cups chopped leeks, only the white and light green parts* (2 stalks)
2 cups sliced shiitake mushrooms (3.5 oz pack, de-stemmed)
3 cups chopped onion (1 large onion)
¼ cup fresh ginger, microplaned or grated + minced
2 tablespoons turmeric, microplaned or grated + minced
2 tablespoons chopped garlic (3 to 5 cloves)
2 tablespoons olive oil (or desired oil)
¼ cup nutritional yeast
½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne, or desired amount
1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
8 cups filtered water, plus more if desired
4 cups peeled and spiralized butternut squash (1 small squash)
A few handfuls of kale, if desired
2 to 3 heaping tablespoons chopped parsley, if desired
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup unpasteurized chickpea miso (or desired miso)

1. Add the celery, carrots, leeks, shiitakes, onion, ginger, turmeric, garlic, olive oil, nutritional yeast, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and salt (start with less if you are sensitive) in a large pot. Mix well and bring to medium heat. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring often, until the vegetables begin to sweat, becoming soft and tender but while maintaining some crunch. 

2. Pour in the water and bring the heat up to high. Once to a boil, throw in the butternut squash noodles. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the squash noodles are tender. Remove from heat and throw in the kale and parsley. Mix well. 

3. In a small bowl, mix together the lemon juice, miso, and one ladle of broth until smooth. Pour the mixture into the soup and stir to incorporate. Give it a taste and add more sea salt and cayenne pepper if desired. I did. :)

Tips

For the leeks, you want to only use the white and baby green parts. The dark green leaves are fibrous and undesirable. One you remove the dark green leaves, slice the stalk in half and you notice loads of dirt. Make sure to rinse all that out thoroughly! I even rinse the leeks once more after cutting because no one likes sand in their soup. 

You can buy pasteurized miso if that's all you have access to, but the good stuff with all of the probiotics will be in the refrigerated section. Adding this to the soup at the very end will help keep them alive. Chickpea miso is a great option for people who try or need to avoid soy. 

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

 
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Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

These cookies remind me of that delectable part of the brownie that I love so very much. You know… when the edges become crispy and chewy? Like that. I've provided just a touch of peppermint extract to boost that seasonal flavor, while crushed peppermint candy canes add another pop of flavor, plus a beautiful crunch on top. I prefer a more chewy cookie, so I go for the longer baking time, but there is no right or wrong. Heck, the raw batter is scrumptious as is. The point being, you can push and pull this recipe in many ways, so have fun! Most importantly, these are a fantastic holiday cookie that anyone would be happy to sink their teeth into. Even the Grinch. 

makes about 24 cookies

¾ cup vegan butter, cold
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon almond extract
½ teaspoon peppermint extract
2 tablespoons ground flax meal
½ cup plant-based milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup dutch processed cocoa powder
1 tablespoon instant coffee powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup mini chocolate chips
⅓ cup roughly crushed peppermint sticks
 

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Combine the vegan butter, granulated sugar, light brown sugar, and sea salt in a mixing bowl. Using a fork or a hand mixer, blend until light and fluffy (if using a fork, this could take a minute). Add the vanilla extract, almond extract, peppermint extract, ground flax meal, and milk. Mix well and set aside.

3. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, coffee powder, and baking soda. Mix well. Add the dry to the wet and mix well until the batter is incorporated.

4. Scoop mounds (about 2 tablespoons in size) onto the baking sheets with a good amount of space in between each cookie (about 1 ½ inches at least). Next, spray the tops of the mounds with cooking spray and using your finger or the back of a spoon, gently press the cookie dough mounds flat, helping to shape them into beautiful cookies. You don't have to press them too much, so please take a chill pill. Sprinkle the tops with desired amounts of mini chocolate chips and pop them in the oven. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on how soft/chewy you like your cookies.

5. Once done, remove from oven. IMMEDIATELY, sprinkle the crushed peppermint sticks on top and gently press in any large pieces of candy cane there may be. This will make sure everything sticks. Let cool for a few minutes, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to let set, about 10 minutes.

Tips

If using smaller baking sheets, you might have to make more than two batches, as the cookies will spread and you'll need more surface area. Just keep the dough covered in the fridge if this is the case. 

For a softer, gooier cookie, go with 10 minutes of baking. For a more crispy on the edges and chewier cookie, go closer to 15 minutes. I prefer 15. ;) 

I found these to be delicious hot out of the oven, once completely cooled, and the next day. Each stage offers different characteristics of enjoyment, so try them all ways! Do note that after about 2 days, they will go soft and taste a bit stale.

In regards to the candy canes, I used a hippy-dippy organic brand from the health food store. This means the sugar is not refined (vegan) and the dyes are made from plants (not chemicals). You can, of course, use whatever kind of candy canes you like- I'm just letting you know what I used. 

The Best Vegan Macaroni and Cheese

 
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Macaroni and Cheese... that's vegan? Is it possible? Is it true?

Why, yes. Yes it is!

Now, don't get it twisted y'all. This didn't use to be the case. Vegan cheese has come a long, long way since I went vegan nearly 10 years ago. I've seen and tasted some pretty bad stuff out there, but I had to do it. You see, contrary to popular belief that vegans sit around all day trying to figure out how to deprive themselves of all things delicious in the world- we actually miss cheese. Like, we get it. We didn't stop eating it because it was delicious! We stopped eating it for many other reasons that I will not go into here. The point is that vegans are humans just like everyone else. We want cheese, too.We longingly watch the cooking shows where the celebrity chefs effortlessly plop sticks of butter into a saucepan while shredding blocks of beautiful artisanal cheeses, easily picked up from the local shop. Only a few years ago, us poor and desperate vegans would venture to make our very own version, only to become disappointed by finding grainy, mealy, and oddly colored vegan cheeses at the store. Some companies even make vegan cheese 'lookalikes' which contain animal by-products like whey and casein. These people are evil- evil I tell you!

Fortunately, the vegan cheese game is stronger than it's ever been. With products that are rich in flavor and creamy in texture- I am proud to say that vegan cheese is now a respectable ingredient to use at home. Don't believe me? Go check out the vegan cheese sections at Whole Foods or your local health food store for yourself. You'll be surprised to see an array of products ranging from your traditional slices, shreds, and spreads. There are even artisanal vegan cheese shops popping up all over the world! Ayyy!

But enough about that- let's get down to business: Macaroni and Cheese. The good stuff. The ultimate comfort food. The kind of dish that makes all your problems melt away while you stuff your face in a dark corner with ooey, gooey, cheesy goodness. Sadly, for vegans, this dish has become a distant memory. Instead of trying to use the disappointing vegan products we became accustomed to before the good ones hit the market, we had to take matters into our own hands by making a vegan version that, well, tasted vegan. You know the one... a ridiculous amount of nutritional yeast, onion powder, garlic powder, and vegan butter tossed with whole wheat pasta. Of course, this concept was only a starting point for us 'foodie vegans'. Soon after, vegan mac n' cheese became one of the most intricate and complicated recipes in the world, with an ingredient list boasting dozens of ingredients. Things like: lemon juice, tamari, miso, acidophilus, citric acid, modified tapioca starch, potato starch, truffle oil- and the list goes on! Vegans everywhere were desperate to create a sophisticated vegan mac n' cheese that would impress not only fellow vegans but omnivores as well.

As it turns out, we never did. No matter how hard we tried- no matter how many boiled potatoes and carrots we added or bright yellow turmeric we scooped in, the common standard American diet consumer would take one bite and say, "It's good. But it's not Mac N' Cheese." As it turns out, we vegans have completely lost our way. We have forgotten what true macaroni and cheese tastes like. We've been overcomplicating it for so long that we've spiraled down into the abyss of vegan mac n' cheese- a lonely universe filled with empty containers of nutritional yeast and flashing images of omnivores rolling their eyes.

Well not anymore! And here's the recipe to prove it. But first, let's break down the traditional version so you can see where I am coming from. A traditional mac and cheese calls for butter, cream or milk, a variety of store bought cheeses, and few spices here and there with maybe some breadcrumbs and a roux. It calls for easy, accessible, and everyday ingredients that come together very quickly in a simple dish. Therefore, I have created this 'Vegan Translation', as Isa Chandra would call it. This recipe is the closest thing I have had to traditional style Macaroni and Cheese since going vegan. Think country style. Think holiday celebration. Think childhood. Do note that I've shown this to my non-vegan friends and they said they could have easily been fooled. Ayyyy!

I teamed up with Follow Your Heart because they have some of the best cheese out there. I highly recommend using this brand to make this recipe. You can try subbing out other brands, but I can't guarantee that it will come out as good as this. You can usually find Follow Your Heart products at Whole Foods, co-ops, health food stores, and I've even seen it at regular grocery stores as well (this is the company responsible for Vegeniase). I would stick to the flavors of American, provolone, and smoked gouda as this combination works really perfectly. You can try subbing out the provolone for cheddar or pepper jack if you'd like. Instead of making a blonde roux, like traditional mac, I just added cornstarch which gives it a thicker and creamier texture, while also being gluten-free. Because I don't like most package plant-based milks (they always taste chemically and a bit stale to me), I just make my own in the blender with water and cashews. Instead of cooking the cheese sauce, I replaced this step by just adding the remaining ingredients to the blender with the milk and blending everything to form a thick, creamy cheese sauce. If you don't have a high-speed blender (and because the sauce is very thick) you may want to blend the cheese sauce in two batches and add them separately. If you are using a Vitamix or other high-speed blender, make sure to use the wand as much as needed to help it blend easily. I would say start slow and easy and then crank it up when it's ready. Ok, ENOUGH. Let's get to cookin'!

 

The Best Vegan Macaroni and Cheese

Serves 6 to 8, takes less than 1 hour, gluten free option (you can halve this recipe if you'd like)

1 (16 oz) pack desired macaroni noodles, plus water + salt to boil

1 cup raw cashews (soaked overnight if using a regular blender)

4 cups filtered water

¼ cup vegan butter

⅛  teaspoon nutmeg

¼  teaspoon cayenne pepper

½ teaspoon turmeric powder

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 pack American slices by Follow Your Heart, chopped

1 pack smoked gouda by Follow Your Heart, chopped

1 pack provolone slices by Follow Your Heart, chopped

Topping (totally optional and not necessary)

1 bag shredded pizza style shreds by Follow Your Heart

6 teaspoons vegan butter

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Fill a large pot with water and a healthy sprinkling of sea salt. Bring to a boil and add the macaroni noodles. Boil for about 5 minutes, until they are al dente (remembering it’s ok if they are slightly firm because they will cook more in the oven, so you need to calm down). Drain with a colander and transfer to a 9” x 13” baking dish (this recipe will just fit in that!) or desired baking vessel (bonus points for using a large cast iron). Set aside.

3. In a high-speed blender, add the cashews and water and blend until smooth and creamy. This should take a minute or two. Add the chopped cheeses, butter, nutmeg, cayenne pepper, turmeric powder, and cornstarch. Start by blending on low and gradually turn up the speed, until you are left with a smooth and creamy sauce, scraping down the sides and moving everything around as needed (please work with your blender… it needs your help and sometimes it feels as though you think it’s invincible.) If using a smaller blender, divide the cashew milk in half and try making the sauce in two separate batches. 

4. Pour the cheese sauce over the noodles in the baking dish. Mix well. Optional: sprinkle the shredded pizza style cheese on top. Then evenly dispersing the butter in small dollops on top.

5. Bake in the oven, uncovered, for about 30 minutes, until the edges are slightly golden and the cheese is thoroughly melted. Remove from the oven and stir with a large spoon. Let stand for 10 minutes. Serve immediately.


Tips

If bringing this to a party, you can make it in advance. Just wrap it up tightly and keep it in the fridge until you are ready to go. Bake this at the location and serve immediately. If you would like to freeze this you should bake it for about 10 to 15 minutes longer because, well, it's frozen. 

An alternative to using a blender is by cooking the sauce on medium heat, stirring constantly, in a large saucepan or pot on the stovetop the sauce becomes smoother and creamy. If this is the case, you should mix the cornstarch with a little water before adding so it doesn't clump. If you can't make your own cashew milk, use a plain unflavored soy creamer or pea milk creamer. If you can't find creamers, use desired plant-based milk (the sauce will be slightly less creamy). 

If using a regular blender you might want to soak your cashews overnight or for at least a few hours to make it easier for them to be blended up smoothly. I have a high-speed blender because I'm fancy, so I don't have to fret about this.

Please chop up the cheese slices so that the blender has a fair chance at blending everything until smooth. If your blender cannot handle this, then you might have to melt everything in a saucepan first and pour that over the noodles. I didn't have a problem with this. And before you ask, you must blend the cheeses up so that it melts effectively. The traditional recipe usually melts the sauce on the stovetop before adding to the noodles. My goal was to skip that step as to not dirty another pot. Use your best judgment. 

If you do not serve this immediately, you will lose that velvety smooth texture and it will start to coagulate. This is totally ok and actually happens to regular macaroni and cheese. If you’d like to make it smooth again, you can add some more cashew cream or nondairy milk and heat it back up, mixing it well. But this is a pain. And it still won't look as good as it does when your first bake it. So just eat it immediately. You shouldn’t have a problem doing that. 

If you don’t want to make a big batch, simply halve this recipe. :)

Apple Peanut Butter Caramel Bars

 
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It's the 10th anniversary of one of my favorite vegan cookbooks: Veganomicon! To celebrate, I have decided to share with all of you this delicious recipe. This one, in particular, was created by my bestie Isa Chandra (she co-authored the book with Terry Romero). While we were flipping through the book, I stumbled upon this shot. When I mentioned it to her, she squealed and immediately told me I should try it. So I did. And boy was it good! 

Don't believe me? Try it for yourself. It's the perfect time of year for it as well, so you have no excuses. 

Apple Peanut Butter Caramel Bars

Makes 12 bars, takes about 1 hour + 15 minutes, plus cooling time

Crust

3 cups vegan graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup refined coconut oil, softened
3 tablespoons unsweetened almond or coconut-based milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Crumb Topping

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons organic sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons refined coconut oil, melted

Apple Filling

3 pounds Granny Smith apples (about 6), cored and sliced thinly (peeling is optional)
1/3 cup organic sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Peanut Butter Caramel

2/3 cup chunky peanut butter (the no-stir kind, not the kind that separates)
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
3 tablespoons brown rice syrup

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with coconut oil or spray with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Prepare the crust: Place the graham cracker crumbs in a mixing bowl. Drizzle with the oil and mix until moistened. Add the milk and the vanilla and mix with your fingers; the crumbs should hold together if pinched. Press the crumbs firmly into the prepared baking pan to form the crust.

3. Prepare the topping: Combine the flour, sugar, spices, and salt in a mixing bowl. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of the coconut oil into the flour and mix with your fingertips until crumbs start to form. Keep tossing the mixture with your fingers; you want the crumbs to be fairly large for crumbs. Add more oil, if necessary.

4. Prepare the apple filling: Combine all the filling ingredients in a bowl, coating all the apples.

5. Assemble the bars: Layer the apples onto the crust and sprinkle with the crumb topping. The topping won't solidly cover the entire pan; just sprinkle it randomly over the top so that the apples are peeking through in places. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the apples are tender.

6. When the bars are almost done baking (at the 35-minute point), start preparing the peanut butter caramel: Mix all the caramel ingredients very well, with a fork, in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat for about 3 minutes. The mixture should soften and slide off the fork in ribbons. 

7. When the bars are done baking, drizzle the caramel in ribbons all over the top. Let cool completely before serving; you can place the pan in the fridge to hasten the cooling process. Slice into bars and serve.

Tips

I used creamy peanut butter and put it in a squirt bottle to drizzle because I'm fancy. 

For the crumb mixture, I added everything directly to the baking dish instead of mixing in a bowl and then transferring. You don't have to do this but its one less bowl to clean! Ayyy!

I had a blast styling them too.

 

A Vegan Foodie's Guide to NYC

 

Ok y'all. You asked for it. So I did it. My detailed guide to eating the most delicious vegan food in New York City. An in depth list of favorite places for shopping, snacking, dining and stuffing your face. Now get ready to take some notes, do some research, and brace yourself for learning the ins and outs of how to be the ultimate vegan foodie in New York City. [Please note that I am well aware of the many other vegan destinations in NYC. There are probably dozens more. And that's fantastic! These are just my personal recommendations for the places I frequent the most or that I find most impressive. And just to give you an idea, there are still loads of places for me to try as well, even after living there for 5 years!] Ok, let's go. 

Modern Love Brooklyn 

Williamsburg, Brooklyn (Lorimer L / JMZ)

This swanky vegan spot is hoppin'! With a menu decked out with scrumptious vegan comfort food, a specially curated selection of vegan wines and beers and decadent house made ice cream and desserts, this place will knock your socks off. The menu is seasonal and changes often, so always hop on over to their website to see what's up. It also happens to be run by my most favorite person and best friend in the world, Isa Chandra. Tip: This is a great date spot and also perfect for the vegan skeptics out there. Do make a reservation just to be safe. If you do go by and you see my girl Isa - give her a big hug for me. She'll just love that. Haha! Look for the one with the bangs, glasses and a beat up Joy Division t-shirt.

100% Vegan 

Variety Coffee

Williamsburg, Brooklyn (Graham Ave L) and more

This is my favorite coffee shop ever! When I lived in Brooklyn, it was my neighborhood spot. I literally went there everyday. After 5 years, I became very close with most of the staff and it almost felt like a family to me. Aside from the sentimental value, they also have delicious coffee which they make fresh, constantly throughout the day in small batches using a large french press. If you are looking for iced, they make their own cold brew as well. They always have soy milk out as an option and they use good almond milk for vegan lattes and such. Tip: They usually have a vegan cookie but it sells out early.

Vegan Options

Brave Gentleman

Williamsburg, Brooklyn (Graham Ave L)

This spot doesn't actually have food or beverage but because it is right next door to Variety Coffee, I had to at least point it out. Brave Gentleman is a vegan apparel brand which is apart of the 'slow-fashion' production model. Investing in superior vegan materials, ethical labor & classic styles, Brave Gentleman has gorgeous clothing, shoes, bags, wallets and more. The owner, Joshua Catcher, is also a friend of mine. He happens to be devastatingly handsome and very sweet, so if you pop in and see him, tell him, "Hi" for me.  

100% Vegan 

Dunwell Doughnuts

Bushwick, Brooklyn (Montrose L) and East Village

Another shop that is just around the corner from Brave Gentleman and Variety Coffee (about a 15 minutes walk) is one of the best places ever- Dunwell Doughnuts! This shop is dedicated to VEGAN DOUGHNUTS. I'm a classic 'Glazed' kind of guy, but don't you worry- they have loads of different flavors and toppings, almost to the point of being overwhelming. They also have vegan ice cream and coffee. Tip: If you are like me and fancy the 'Glazed' variety as well, try to make it in earlier than later as those are the first to run out. Update: There is now a second storefront in the East Village of Manhattan. 

100% Vegan 

Screamer's Pizzeria 

Greenpoint, Brooklyn (Bedford L or Nassau G) 

If you are looking for that classic NYC slice of pizza, this is your spot. You know, the kind of places that have 2 slices + a coke for only a few bucks. Now just like any regular pizza slice spot, don't expect a nice sit down meal. This is an in and out kinda place. But it's no problem because the pizza is so good you will gobble it up before you walk a block away. Tip: Their 'White' cheese pizza is my absolute favorite, so do yourself a favor and get that one first. I could eat the whole thing to myself. Actually, I *have* eaten the whole thing to myself. Because I'm on a diet. 

100% Vegan 

Adelina's Wine

Greenpoint, Brooklyn (Greenpoint Ave G)

Adelina's is a cozy little nook in the heart of Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Just steps from the G train, Adelina's rustic interior, home cooked menu, and wide selection of delicious vegan wine makes this place a true gem. Their menu is loaded with classic Italian inspired cuisine, in particular their house made pizzas with their very own vegan mozzarella. Adelina's has a special place in my heart because I have done many pop-events there including brunch, pizza special night and two separate truffle dining experiences. If you pop by, ask for Toby (the owner) and tell him I sent you. He's lovely. 

90% Vegan

Taim Falafel

Nolita, Manhattan (Spring Street 4/6) or West Village (A, B, C, D, E, F, W trains to West 4th)

When my friend Russel asked me if I had ever had Taim falafel I shook my head no to which he responded with a huge grin, "Ok, let's go!" I didn't understand why he was so excited until we arrived and I popped one of their falafels in my mouth. Crispy and golden brown on the outside while light, fluffy and oh so flavorful in the middle- it literally collapsed in my mouth in the most delicate and delicious way. If you love falafel or even if you're not a huge fan- you simply must try this place. It is a game changer. Tip: They also have loads of fun vegetable sides, sauces, and hummuses that are vegan. 

All Vegetarian. Mostly Vegan. 

Cocoron

Nolita, Manhattan (Spring Street 4/6)

I had not had a proper bowl of good ramen until I visited this busy little shop in Nolita (North of Little Italy). What I encountered was a broth that was bursting with flavor and garnished with a selection of interesting vegetables and delicious homemade buckwheat noodles. There's nothing quite as satisfying as slurping a huge spoonful of brothy noodles now is there? As for vegan options, they have a designated vegan menu that has many different choices which makes things oh so easy for us. Tip: They do not take reservations and they are very busy so be prepared to wait (or just go during off hours like I do and you shouldn't have a problem). I will say the tables turn pretty quickly so you shouldn't have to wait that long.  

Designated Vegan Menu

Jack's Coffee

West Village, Manhattan (A, B, C, D, E, F, W trains to West 4th) and more

Scattered throughout the city is Jack's Coffee. I love this company because they only use the highest quality, organic, shade grown beans for their coffee. Their cold brew in particular is very smooth and has chocolatey undertones. They also have a selection of different baked goods and soups are made daily and happen to be vegan. Always double check though. They're usually very sweet. 

Mostly Vegan

Eataly

Flatiron, Manhattan (23rd Street NQRW or 23rd Street 4/6)

Eataly is a foodies's dream come true, for vegans and non-vegans alike! This large store has an extensive produce selection, multiple restaurants, and a bakery. From incredible produce, unique pasta, fresh truffles and delicious bread, Eataly is a magical place where you could spend a good hour wandering around, if only to look. Tip: Check out their mushroom selection. They always have unique varieties. There are two locations: one in Flatiron (which I'm partial to) and one Downtown.

Maison Kayser

Flatiron, Manhattan (23rd Street NQRW or 23rd Street 4/6) and many more

The Maison Kayser that I frequented most is right around the corner from Eataly, although there are multiple locations in NYC. Founded by Eric Kayser in Paris in 1996, Maison Kayser is an authentic artisanal French Boulangerie, meaning that the bread and other baked goods are mixed and baked on-site all day long. Most of them are not vegan friendly but the baguettes *are*. And let me tell you. They. Are. The. Best. I mean, I could eat a whole one on my own. Tip: I recommend just popping in for one baguette at least. Most likely, it will still be warm as they are baking them constantly throughout the day. If you want to take it to the next level, find yourself a toaster and get your hands on some vegan butter. Nothing better in my opinion. This bread also makes an epic sandwich and is perfect for dipping into spreads/oils. Picnic in Central Park anyone?

Vegan Options

Blossom Chelsea

Chelsea, Manhattan (23rd Street C/E)

This Blossom was actually one of the first vegan restaurants I had ever been to. I was so excited to actually have a reservation, order a glass of wine, and have a delicious, well thought out entrée opposed to the usual salad with no dressing and a side of fries. My favorite menu items at this location are hands down the Seitan Scallopini (lemon caper white wine butter sauce with crispy seitan, truffled mash potatoes, and sautéed kale), the cashew cream ravioli with fried sage and the trumpet mushroom calamari with spicy marinara. Tip: You absolutely need a reservation for this location. They're also open for lunch.

100% Vegan 

Cocoa V

Chelsea, Manhattan (23rd Street C/E)

Cocao V is directly across the street from Blossom Chelsea and it is owned by my dear friend Pamela Elizabeth. There you can find an extensive selection of outrageous, decadent and artisinal vegan chocolates and other specialty desserts. A perfect ending to a long day in NYC. You can check out their amazing selection here

100% Vegan 

Chelsea Market

Chelsea, Manhattan (14th Street ACE or 14th Street L)

This is definitely a tourist trap. But, so what? Sometimes tourists traps can be fun- in small doses. This shopping center happens to have many different vegan goodies. Ninth Street Espresso has delicious coffee, Seed and Mill has outrageously good Halva (if you don't know that that is you should), Manhattan Fruit Exchange has loads of fun produce and snacks to try, The Green Table is a local restaurant with an ever changing menu that often times has a few vegan options (but always ask and double check- you know the drill.), Buon Italia has amazing Italian imported goods/grocery items (like, the coolest pasta, oils, and snacks). The Filling Station has all of your specialty salts and oils. Try the smoked salt, truffle salt, and apricot olive oil. Amy's Bread has a ton of delicious vegan options: try the olive twists... yum! Chelsea Market is always adding new storefronts as well, so I'm sure there is even more to explore now then when I last was there. P.S. There is also an Anthropology at the front of the market... so like, duh... Anthro. 

Urban Vegan Kitchen

West Village, Manhattan (A, B, C, D, E, F, W trains to West 4th)

Urban Vegan Kitchen is a funky little spot in the West Village of Manhattan. And it just so happens that I helped them create their initial menu which they are actually still serving currently!  They've been creating new daily specials while also hosting events with guests chefs, so be sure to check out what is going with them when you are in town. Some of my favorite recipes that I created for them are the Breakfast Sandwich, the BLT, and the Chickun and Waffles. 

100% Vegan

 One of my original recipes, the Breakfast Sandwich, created especially for Urban Vegan Kitchen. This photograph came from my test kitchen when I was living in NYC, so don't expect it to look exactly like this! Don't you worry though, it will taste just as good. ;)

One of my original recipes, the Breakfast Sandwich, created especially for Urban Vegan Kitchen. This photograph came from my test kitchen when I was living in NYC, so don't expect it to look exactly like this! Don't you worry though, it will taste just as good. ;)

Blue Bottle Coffee

Chelsea, Manhattan (14th Street ACE or 14th Street L) and many more

This Oakland based company has some mighty damn fine coffee. Whether it be drip or cold brew, you can't go wrong. They also have a house made vegan granola that is to die for. You can have it served with almond milk for a nice little snack. I used to eat it on my breaks when I worked at the Apple store just around the corner at their Chelsea location. There are quite a few locations in NYC which you can locate here, so do make sure to pop in one and give them a go.

Vegan Options

An Choi

Lower East Side (Delancey Street F or Grand Street B/D)

I guess you could call this place a hole in the wall. One that plays really hip music and has a bartender that is way cooler than you. Don't worry though, they have vegan pho that is so good, the pretentiousness won't matter. I particularly love their combo where you can order a half bowl of pho and a half of tofu bahn mi (make sure to request no butter and mayo) for only $15. Their rice paper rolls are worth investigating, too. Tip: You can ask for extra pho fixins like Thai basil, lime slices, and mung bean sprouts for no extra charge. But ask nicely. Check out there menu full here.

Vegan Options

Babycakes

Lower East Side (Delancey Street F or Grand Street B/D)

This is actually now called Erin McKenna's Bakery, but it was called Babycakes when I lived in Brooklyn. It was actually the very first place I arrived to when I moved there (my friend was working there at the time), so it's kind of nostalgic for me. That being said, I honestly am not a big fan of gluten free baked goods (this place is entirely gluten free) but I will point out that their chocolate chip cookies are really flippin' good. Crispy on the edges and chewy in the middle. I would go in just for that. Now, if they have savory biscuits, snag one or two of them as well (I'm talking the broccoli, onion and cheddar type combos here people.) I would skip the doughnuts as there are just pieces of cakes with holes cut in them. You're not fooling me babycakes, er, Erin...

100% vegan

Hangawi

Koreatown, Manhattan (33rd Street 4/6)

This buddhist Korean restaurant is totally awesome. Upon entering, you will be asked to remove you shoes. You then will be led to a table that has pillows instead of chairs. Next, you will be offered a menu full of fun and exciting dishes that you most likely have never seen before. Soups, bowls, salads and entrees loaded with odd mushrooms and unique veggies- this dining experience is an adventure for sure. Try not to be overwhelmed with the menu as it is very large. I would recommend taking a look at it here before you go, just to give you a head start. Tip: They are quite busy, so please make your life easier by making a reservation.

100% Vegan 

Kajitsu

Midtown East, Manhattan (2, 4, 5, 6, 7 Grand Central - 42 Street)

This Buddhist Japanese restaurant is one of the most unique dining experiences I have ever had. With multiple courses, incredibly obscure ingredients and dynamic cooking techniques and methods- you are in for a treat. Kajitsu serves a type of cuisine known as Shojin: vegetarian cooking that originates in Zen Buddhism which abstains from meat or fish. The main focus is to use fresh and seasonal ingredients which are prepared in ways that enhance the flavor of each component, with the finished dishes beautifully arranged on plates. I'm not going to lie- there were quite a few dishes that I wouldn't necessarily call delicious more so than interesting... does that make sense? Let's just say there were certain sea vegetables and gelatinous components that I wasn't crazy about. But seriously, no regrets. Not to mention their menu changes frequently so your experience will be completely different than mine. Tip: Do note that Kajitsu is pretty pricey and you will need a reservation way in advance. 

100% Vegan 

Superiority Burger

East Village, Manhattan (1st Avenue L or Astor Place 4/6)

Superiority Burger is sooo good! This itty bitty spot in the east village is one of those places that is too cool for school but they still let you come in and order. It is completely vegetarian and mostly vegan. Because it's tiny, don't expect to dine in- although you might be lucky enough to snag a seat. I would say plan on taking it to go for a picnic or to enjoy on the stoop of someone's building (how New York..eye roll). Tip: My favorite things to order are their daily specials and desserts, especially the ice creams and sorbets (the owner is an award winning pastry chef and has a really cool cookbook).

Vegetarian, Mostly Vegan

Confectionery 

East Village, Manhattan (1st Avenue L or Astor Place 4/6)

This shop is on the same block as Superiority Burger. Coincidence? I think not. There are many different goodies there but my favorites of the shop are Sweet Maresa's macarons. They are the best out there. Seriously. I mean, who has time to make homemade vegan macarons? Well, Maresa does. And she does it well. 

100% Vegan 

cinnamon snail

Midtown West, Manhattan (Penn Station ACE or B, D, F, M, N, Q, R,W Herald Square)

A once crazy popular food truck turned to a brick and mortar grab and go restaurant, Cinnamon Snail has a fully vegan menu loaded with sandwiches bursting with flavor, savory breakfast items, and most importantly- over the top desserts (like doughnuts with mini doughnuts on top). The Snail is located at the Pennsy Food Hall which is set up like a food court so although your food is order/pick up- there is plenty of room for you to sit and enjoy. Tip: Buy a box of their baked goods to bring to a dinner party and say that you made them. Update: There is a second location in the Financial District as well.

100% Vegan 

Juice Press

East Village, Manhattan (1st Avenue L or Astor Place 4/6) and many more

One thing I truly miss about NYC is having access to organic, cold pressed green juice. Seriously. I would drink one from Juice Press about 3x a week. I recommend Mother Earth which is strictly greens: celery, kale, swiss chard, dandelion, parsley, lemon, ginger & cucumber. That's my kinda juice! I also like their ginger based shots and their coconut milk beverages (the one that has just coconut milk and coconut water blended together- yum!). There are dozens of these sprinkled all throughout the city. I'm confident you will run into one if you ever visit the city. 

100% Vegan 

paulie gees

Greenpoint, Brooklyn (Greenpoint Ave G)

One of the main reasons I love this restaurant is because the style and overall feel of the interior is remarkable. It's worth it just to go for that! But they also have a vegan menu with some killer pizza (it's all about the dough) and refreshing salads. They even make their own nut cheeses and seitan for us. Isn't that sweet? If you do plan to go, be prepared to wait as they don't take reservations (well, at least last time I checked they didn't). Tip: To avoid a line, go earlier or later in the evening. If you call, they'll usually tell you how long the wait is too. Also, this place is kind of in the middle of nowhere so unless the weather is nice and you want to walk, plan on taking an Uber. Warning: the host will act like she's doing you a favor when she seats you. 

Vegan Options

Pilot Kombucha 

(No storefront.)

This NYC based kombucha company is awesome! 1. Because they have really cool and unique flavor combos. 2. Because the kombucha is not too sweet. I HATE really sweet kombucha. It actually really pisses me off. But Pilot is perfectly sweetened. And I just love the packaging/branding. Listen to some of the cool flavor combos: Celery Juniper, Turmeric Aloe & Lavender Peach. I mean, can you handle it? So good. Tip: My favorite is the Celery Juniper. 

100% Vegan 

Anita's Coconut Yogurt

(No storefront.)

When I first tasted Anita's yogurt, I said, "I have to meet this person!" And I did. Funny enough, her production kitchen was just a 15 minute walk from my apartment in Brooklyn. Upon entering the space, I noticed how organized and clean it was. Then I noticed only the highest quality organic coconut milk being used as the main ingredient. It was then I realized why this product was so perfect. From them on, Anita and I have maintained a friendship (because she's fabulous) and I always eat as much yogurt as I can when visiting. I'm fairly certain it will be available in most markets...eventually. But for now, it's only available in the NYC area. Here is a list of different businesses that carry her yogurt. 

100% Vegan 

Cheezehound

(No Storefront.)

Lori of Cheezehound is one cool cat. And she knows how to throw down when it comes to making artisanal and incredibly realistic vegan cheeses. She uses high quality, organic nuts and seeds as the base but the main ingredient happens to be time and patience. Her cheese is different than others on the market, too. What I have noticed with other artisanal cheese companies is that their products tastes like super lemony nuts that are blended up- do you know what I mean? They don't have that exquisite depth of flavor and luscious texture us foodie vegans are looking for. Well, not hers. The textures, aromas, and flavors are the closest thing to real cheese that I have ever tasted. And her mozzarella blows all the other competitors away. Far away. You can find her cheeses at these NYC locations: HighVibe, Orchard Grocer, The Alchemist's Kitchen & Riverdel Cheese. 

100% Vegan 

Riverdel Cheese

Brooklyn, NY (Eastern Parkway Brooklyn Museum Station 2/3 and 4)

This quaint little vegan cheese shop, albeit small, is not playing around. They take their curation of vegan cheeses and specialty products very seriously. What you are left with is a wide selection of products that inevitably ends up being very impressive! This spot is an absolute must if you make the trip to NYC. Not only do they carry dozens of products, they also make their own cheeses in house as well. Lastly, they have really delicious (and decadent) sandwiches which they make fresh to order in the shop, so be sure to check those out before stopping by (take a look at the menu here). Tip: They even have their own version of the 'McMuffin' called the 'McDel'. I mean, c'mon!

100% Vegan 

Orchard Grocer

Lower East Side (Delancey Street F or Grand Street B/D)

This is the sister business to vegan shoe store Moo Shoes. They are stocked with all kind of cool vegan products and snacks, while also serving a small menu and soft serve ice cream. One cool little fact about this store is that it is completely palm oil free. Yaaaay! After you visit here, check out Babycakes and An Choi which are both just around the corner.

100% Vegan 

Vegan Shop Up

Bushwick, Brooklyn (Morgan L Train) 

The Vegan Shop Up is one of the most special vegan events happening in NYC. This is because it brings together all the best small and local vegan businesses together under one roof. This leaves you with a plethora of delicious vegan food and products to try. (Cute little story, I used to have a table at the events where I would sell things like gumbo and vegan cheese grits.) The main shop up happens monthly at a bar called Pine Box Rock Shop in Brooklyn, but there sometimes are other ones happening elsewhere. Join their mailing list or follow them on Instagram to stay in the loop. Tip: Lori from Cheezehound is usually there. ;) 

100% Vegan 

 A winter's produce haul from the Union Square Farmers Market. Photo taken by @tutes. 

A winter's produce haul from the Union Square Farmers Market. Photo taken by @tutes. 

Union square green market | Grow nyc 

Union Square, Manhattan (L, N, Q, R, 4, 5, 6 to Union Square)

I frequented the UNSQ Green Market probably 3x a week when I lived in NYC. I couldn't get enough. This market was instrumental in helping me build my knowledge of local produce, mushrooms and unique edible flowers. Rain or shine, the market happens Monday, Wednesday, & Friday - all day! (8 am - 6 pm) The best part? There are different vendors each day. I can't even begin to tell you how much variety you have to choose from. Granted there are meat, cheese, and egg vendors but most of them are all veggies, shrooms, and baked goods! Some of my favorite farms and business are Windfall Farms, Tamarack Hollow Farm, Eckerton Hill Farm, Norwich Meadows Farm, Two Guys from Woodbridge and Bread Alone Bakery just to name a few... Fun Fact: I have met many other foodie Instagrammers at the market. It's a great place to meet likeminded people!

Del Posto 

Meatpacking District, Manhattan (14th Street ACE or 14th Street L)

You might be surprised that Mario Batali's epic Italian restaurant has vegan fare, but it's true! This is by far the most fancy and expensive restaurant on this list (the second one being Kajitsu), but I wanted to provide at least two fine dining spots.  Now, unless you have a black AmEx, this place is only for celebrations and special occasions. If you request vegan when you make your reservation, they will make you a full tasting menu. Although I only dined there once, what I will say is that the overall experience was incredible! I happened to go with my family to celebrate my sister's engagement. I was the only vegan dining at the table and so my menu became a spectacle for everyone to watch (in a good way- not like a salad with no dressing at Olive Garden). We were all very impressed.  

 Everyday Angelica had two seasonal desserts offered along with seasonal cookies and parfaits. This one is a Blackberry Coconut Lavender tart.

Everyday Angelica had two seasonal desserts offered along with seasonal cookies and parfaits. This one is a Blackberry Coconut Lavender tart.

A tribute to angelica kitchen (1976 - 2017)

East Village, Manhattan

Even though Angelica Kitchen closed its doors early this past spring, I felt obligated to mention the establishment as a tribute. Do understand that if Angelica were still open, it would have been my #1 recommendation. Why? Because Angelica Kitchen is still to this day, my favorite restaurant in the world. Let me show you their mission statement and maybe you can understand why:

"Since 1976 Angelica Kitchen, has been serving fresh, delicious food in an atmosphere where sustainable agriculture and responsible business practices are the main ingredients. This combination reflects our deep respect for the environment and our gratitude toward the dedicated people who produce our food.
Angelica Kitchen is pure vegan - 100% plant based - and a minimum of 95% of all food used to prepare our menu has been grown organically.
Maintaining committed, direct relationships with local farmers, food artisans, purveyors, and customers keeps our menu reasonably priced while ensuring the vitality of the ingredients. Ingredients used to prepare our menu are grown ecologically and fairly traded; we use renewable sources of energy and a high quality backwash carbon system to filter our water; our active composting assures as little waste as possible."

I was lucky enough to be a server at Angelica Kitchen while living in New York. I ended up leaving the job to pursue Mississippi Vegan full time but I immediately became an avid patron, dining there on average 3 times a week. Often times I would just pop in for a cup of soup (they had the best soups!). You see, after working there for 5 months and consuming the food frequently, I was hooked. I truly craved Angelica like nothing before. Mainly because it made me feel so good! Aside from eating healthy food and feeling my best, Angelica taught me about integrity. They claimed to be healthy and 95% organic- and they honestly were. When I first started working there, I noticed all of the produce coming in from local organic farms. Always fresh. Always organic. On top of that, their whole menu was made from scratch, nothing processed. They took extra steps in soaking and cooking their beans while using kombu so that they were digested more effectively. They made their own seitan from scratch using organic whole wheat flour. They never use processed sugar or excess amounts of oil and didn't even have a deep fryer. Their goal was to serve the most delicious food that was equally as nutritious. I had never been to a sit down restaurant like that before. It taught me that you can still go out to eat and feel fantastic after your meal. If you are interested in learning more about this historic restaurant, please check out their cookbook- it has become a standby in my kitchen, full of knowledge, tips, and recipes. If I ever were to open a restaurant (which I never will because I'm not utterly insane), it would be like Angelica Kitchen. Thank you for changing my life in the most beautiful way Leslie. 

Well, that's it!

I hope you enjoy this guide as much as I did creating it. I felt as though I was being propelled right back into the streets of my old home while reminiscing. The crazy, bustling and magical streets of New York City can be an overwhelming place. Especially with the amount of choices and decisions that have to be made daily. I hope that this guide will assist you and give you some helpful direction. My goal is to make delicious vegan food accessible and fun to find. I will continue to add to this list whenever I find something new and exciting to share. Until next time!

Much love,

Timothy 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Garden Pesto Pasta

 


This pasta is absolutely divine (if I do say so myself). It literally screams 'summer', I mean... look at it! In actuality, the pesto is what's really divine. The noodles and vegetables are just a vehicle. I wanted to really play on the theme of 'Green' so I chose to use fresh English peas, sugar snap peas, freshly picked herbs, and fava beans offering all different shades and varieties of textures (4x the green people!). The pesto itself is loaded with so much flavor, you'll barely be able to handle it. Tossing this in with piping hot pasta and crispy fresh vegetables, it makes for the perfect summer dish. Feel free to play with different ingredients as you could take this in so many fun directions. To access unique varieties of basil, I highly recommend checking out your local farmer's market as they will have all of the cool stuff. I actually used 7 different varieties of basil in my pesto but I just so happen to be growing them all ;) Time for you to get some pots of your own, eh? Have fun!

garden pesto pasta

serves 4 to 6

pesto:

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

1/2 cup blanched almonds (no skin)

2 cups fresh basil (as many varieties available- lime, lemon, blue spice, sweet), packed

1/3 cup fresh oregano, packed

1/3 cup fresh thyme, packed

1/3 cup fresh parsley, packed

1/3 cup fresh chive, packed

1/4 cup cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon mellow white or chickpea miso

2 large or 3 small garlic cloves, roughly chopped

1 teaspoon lemon zest

2 - 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (depending on desired tanginess)

1/2 teaspoon sugar or agave nectar

1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

vegetables + pasta: 

1 cup English peas, frozen

1 cup sugar snap peas, blanched 

1 cup fava beans, blanched

1 box or bag of orecchiette pasta (or variety of your choice)

Fresh herbs to garnish

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the almonds and nutritional yeast on a baking sheet and bake for 7 minutes until the mixture is fragrant and lightly toasted. Remove, let cool, and toss into a food processor along with the basil, oregano, thyme, parsley, and chive, olive oil, miso, garlic cloves, lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar or agave, pepper, and sea salt. Blend for a few minutes until nice and smooth, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides with a spoon. Taste a little bit and see if you'd like to add more salt or pepper. Set aside. 

Bring one small pot of water with a dash of salt to boil and toss in the fava beans and cook for 5 minutes to give them a head start. Then add the English peas and sugar snap peas. Cook for another 5 minutes until the peas are bright green. Drain the vegetables and submerge them in a large bowl of ice water to shock them. Drain the vegetables and pick out the fava beans. Remove their tough outer shell and add them back to the peas. Set aside.

For the pasta, bring a large pot of water with a dash of salt to a boil and cook the pasta until done (follow the instructions on the package). Once done, drain and return the pasta back to the pot. Scrape in all of the pesto and add the vegetables. Toss well and serve. Garnish with fresh herbs, black pepper, and sea salt if desired.

Enjoy!

-Timothy


tips

Make sure the almonds are blanched! Whole or slivered are ok as you will be blending them up in the pesto. If the skins are on, they will make the texture rather undesirable (trust me, I've regrettably done it before). You could blanch the almonds yourself by boiling them in water with the skins on for 1 minute, removing them, and then peeling the skins off... but seriously? Just buy them blanched y'all.

Please note to zest the lemon before juicing. You won't be happy doing it the other way around. This recipe should only require one lemon unless you have the smallest lemons in the world.

The reason for shocking the vegetables in an ice bath is to stop them from cooking while also locking in their bright color. This method also gives a nice crunch to them as well, you'll see. 

Fava beans are a bit of a pain but they are so worth it. If you are lucky enough to find frozen and peeled fava beans- great! But most likely, you'll only see them in their shells. To remove the edible part of the beans, open the pod and remove the beans. The outer shell is tough and is not desirable, in my opinion. After it has been cooked, you can rather easily remove this outer shell by piercing it delicately and then peeling. What you'll find inside is a bright green fava bean that is buttery and delicious! 

Allergies! Because the pesto itself is gluten-free- you can absolutely use gluten free pasta to go all the way. If you want to make this soy free, use chickpea miso. To make this sugar free, use agave. To make nut free, use sunflower seeds (not sure it will be quite as good or pretty, but you get the idea...) or you can remove the nuts altogether. Ok, are y'all happy now!?

The pasta makes for a nice cold salad the next day, but I do prefer it hot if you decide to use orecchiette. If you do want to serve it as a cold salad, I would recommend using bowtie, rotini (spirals), or penne noodles, as the orecchiette tends to stick together. I actually don't mind this texture when it is served hot, but when served cold, it can be a bit overwhelming, so try the other varieties. 

Ok, that's all. Bye!

 

 

Bruschetta

 
bruschetta_03.png

In light of summer being just around the corner, I wanted to give you guys a delicious and easy recipe for one of my favorite snacks- bruschetta. This is the perfect way to enjoy juicy tomatoes and fresh herbs. I've made sure to keep this recipe as simple as possible (Only 10 ingredients!) while also throwing in some special tricks to make it unique enough to be worth your while. Do note that although the instructions are kept to a minimum, there are a ton of tips to help you out. Y'all know I like to talk. Ok, enjoy! 

Bruschetta

make 2 servings and takes about 15 minutes, nut free, soy free & gluten free option

ingredients

2 slices sourdough bread, ½ inch or slightly thinner if desired  

2 large or 3 small garlic cloves

3 tablespoons olive oil + a drizzle

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast 

½ teaspoon mellow white or chickpea miso

1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered

1 tablespoon fresh oregano, not packed

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, not packed

1 cup fresh basil, not packed

Splash of lemon juice, about ½ teaspoon

Fresh pepper & sea salt, to taste

In a mortar in pestle*, add the garlic, olive, oil, nutritional yeast, and a just a pinch of salt and pepper and mash until you are left with a smooth paste. Spread the mash evenly over both sides of bread slices, coating every square inch of each side. Bring a skillet to medium heat and grill the bread on each side for 3-4 minutes, until golden brown, checking often to make sure not to burn. Once removed from the skillet, spread a paper thin amount of the miso on only the top of each piece of toast.

For the topping, finely chop all of the fresh herbs and add them to a mixing bowl along with the tomatoes, splash of olive oil & lemon juice, and a pinch of salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and spoon onto toast. Serve immediately.

Enjoy!

-Timothy


tips

Place the loaf of bread in the fridge for a few hours before slicing. This makes the bread hard and much easier to cut. Using a bread knife is ideal as well. There’s a reason these were invented guys, use them! Use gluten-free bread if you wish! 

If you do not have a mortar and pestle, just finely mince the garlic, smash it with the side of your knife, mince some more, and add that to the oil, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper and mix well.

Miso! I know, like, what? Well, yeah! It’s super delicious and has a cheesy flavor. Don’t worry, you’re not adding a ton! Just a very small amount. This provides the toast with an extra level of flavor and richness. Try it! I promise you’ll like it. When adding salt to taste, do remember that the miso adds a kick of saltiness, so just be aware of that when you are doing your final touches to taste.  If you want to make this soy free, use chickpea miso. It's awesome.

Make it pretty! Now I know what you're thinking, “My bruschetta will never look like that...” Well, it can if you really care! Just take the extra 5 minutes it takes (ok, maybe 10) to plate it nicely. Reserve some of the prettiest fresh herbs for the final touches. If you take your time studding them in, you can create your own little world and make the prettiest toast ever. Well, not as pretty as mine. Ha! Jk. Or you could just throw it together and devour- there’s no right or wrong here people.

You can certainly cut the bread into smaller pieces and serve this as a small bite size appetizer for a party. You can also pop the bread in the oven to toast it up a bit more. What I have noticed is that you want the toast to have some chew so that it holds the topping more efficiently. If it’s too crispy, everything will just fall off!

I highly recommend making this as an afternoon snack for a friend. Try enjoying it with a glass of delicious red wine and some olives to snack on. That’s what I would do! :)