August 31, 2014 By This Vegan Girl
If you care about something, you want to improve it and make yourself better, right? For me, this blog is a constant reminder of that. I get to see how far I’ve come with not only vegan cooking, but cooking in general. In fact, some of my earlier posts are a bit embarrassing for me to look at.
On that note, here is a specific recipe in particular that I’ve made slight improvements to over the past year, and that’s the Buffalo Quinoa Salad recipe. This is a staple recipe in our household, as it’s one of Matt’s favorites. This version is less processed, less work, and more delicious. You can’t argue with that!
Buffalo Quinoa Salad
Prep Time: 15 minutes (mostly completed during cook time)
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
For the Tempeh Tenders
- 1 8oz package of tempeh, diced
- 4 tbs Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo wing sauce
- 1/3 cup GF vegan breadcrumbs
- 1 15oz can of garbanzo beans
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 1 cup carrots, diced
- 1 cup celery, sliced
- 1/2 cup white onion, diced
- 1 cup quinoa
- your favorite hummus
- Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo wing sauce (for drizzling and such)
Step 1: Prepare and roast chickpeas.
STEP 1: Preheat oven to 400°F. Drain the chickpeas and pat them dry. Get an oven pan oiled and ready, place chickpeas onto the pan, and dress them with 1 tbs of olive oil. The ONE TABLESPOON is crucial, people. If you add more, your chickpeas will turn out either too mushy or burnt. Move your fingers along the tops of the chickpeas until every chickpea is coated with a bit of oil.
Now, you’re ready to place them in the oven for about 50 minutes. Your result should be crunchy, roasted chickpeas. It’s a great GF crouton, and way more nutritious!
Step 2: Prepare and cook tempeh tenders.
Here is a step that I’ve changed about the previous recipe that will save you lots of time, is less messy, and produces better-quality results. Plus, it’s more fun this way, as dancing with food is involved.
Take your diced tempeh and place it in a tupperware container. Next, pour in the buffalo wing sauce and GF bread crumbs. Put the top on the tupperware container and shake it up! Dance and have fun with your tenders.
When you open up your container, perfectly-coated nuggets will be revealed, without getting a single finger messy!
Grease a baking sheet, pour the tempeh tenders on top, and place in the oven for 30 minutes. It’s okay to share the oven with the chickpeas. I do it all the time.
Step 3: Cook the quinoa.
Two cups of water and one cup of quinoa will go into a pot. Bring the pot to a bowl, lower the heat to simmer, and cover the pot for 15 minutes.
Step 4: Cut the vegetables.
With three things cooking at once, you’ll have one more task: cutting the vegetables. CHEF STATUS! Lol, just kidding. Real chefs start prepping their food at 8am.
Step 5: Combine ingredients in a big bowl.
As things start finishing up, start placing them in a big bowl. Mix it all together.
I like to save the hummus for “garnish” in my own bowl. I like to use Publix’s Jalapeño Cilantro hummus in this dish, as it amps up the kick. However, I’m sure every hummus, store-bought or homemade, works just fine here. Add a heaping tablespoon of your favorite hummus in your own bowl, mix, drizzle some hot sauce on top, and enjoy this heavenly dish.
Add a heaping tablespoon of your favorite hummus in your own bowl, mix, drizzle some hot sauce on top, and enjoy this heavenly dish.
I hope you all give this improved version a try!
August 24, 2014 By This Vegan Girl
I’ve been wanting to make a pizza with a pesto base for quite some time now. However, I just couldn’t seem to come up with ideal toppings for the pizza. I had found myself in a rut, using the same ingredients as toppings over and over. I decided to put off posting the recipe until I came up with the answer.
A week ago, we went to Clearwater, FL to celebrate Matt’s birthday with his parents. Matt’s mom, Gail, loves to cook, and she made him a spectacular dinner for his birthday. On the menu was this to-die-for fennel, red onion, and olive salad. The rest of the family had their salad topped with sea scallops, but even without, mine was incredible.
I kept thinking about that salad. I thought about it for the next week. I’m not a fan of fennel, or olives for that matter. Nonetheless, I kept thinking about how perfect it was.
It suddenly clicked that this winning salad combination might be my answer to my pesto base pizza woes. I acquired the recipe from Gail, put it on top of the pizza, and the result was out of this world. I always say this, but this time, I mean it; this is my new favorite pizza. Shh… don’t tell the others.
Fennel Salad Pizza with Pesto Base
Prep Time: 30-45 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Yield: One pizza pie
For the Gluten-Free Crust: (see recipe here) (optional)
- 2 tsp active dry yeast
- 1 tsp Sugar
- 3/4 cup Water (warm)
- 1 tbs flax seed mixed with 3 tbs warm water
- 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 1-1/2 cups GF all-purpose baking flour
- 2 tsp xanthan gum
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
For the Fennel Salad:
- 5-6 fennel stalks OR 1 head of fennel, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup red onion, rinsed with cold water to reduce raw harshness
- 1 cup Castelvetrano olives, crushed and pitted
- 2 tbs fresh or dried tarragon
- 2 tbs fresh parsley, chopped
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
For the Pesto Base:
- 1-2 handfuls of fresh basil, rinsed
- 1 handful of raw cashews
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 lemon, freshly squeezed
- 3 garlic cloves
- salt and pepper to taste
Step 1: Make the fennel salad.
The fennel salad needs to marinate for 20 minutes, so I think this should be numero uno.
I bought my olives at Whole Foods at their olive bar. Start by placing the olives in between sheets of parchment paper. Mash the olives with the palms of your hand. If it hurts your hand too much, a potato masher will probably do the trick. Once all the olives are mashed, remove the pits, separate the olives into smaller bits with your hands, and place in a bowl.
Next, chop up the red onion. Once chopped, place the red onion in a strainer, rinse off with cold water, and add it to the bowl of olives. Raw red onion is extremely harsh and has quite a bite to it, so we don’t need that type of drama here.
My knives are an embarrassment to the world of cooking, as I am a starving artist. Therefore, I had to pulse my fennel in the food processor to chop it properly. Hopefully, you don’t have these problems and can cut your fennel like a normal human being. Nevertheless, feel free to use my method.
Place the rest of the salad ingredients into the bowl. Mix and set aside. Let it marinate for at least 20 minutes.
Step 2: Prepare the gluten-free pizza crust. (optional)
Not everyone needs to make a gluten-free pizza crust. Not everyone wants to make a gluten-free pizza crust. However, if you do, I’ve found that Bob’s Red Mill’s website has provided the best recipe. View it here. (Substitute 1 tbs flax seed meal & 3 tbs warm water (mixed) for the egg to make it vegan.)
Your pizza crust should look like this when complete:
Gluten-free crust needs to be pre-cooked before adding any base or toppings to it. At 425º, cook the pizza crust for 7 minutes. Set aside.
Step 3: Food process the pesto base.
This is the easy part, and it’s the perfect thing to do while you’re waiting for your gluten-free crust to precook. Place all ingredients in a food processor and mix until creamy. Garlic bits are graciously accepted.
Step 4: Spread pesto base on pizza crust and bake.
Scoop the pesto with a spoon, then use the back of the spoon to smooth out the pesto throughout the crust.
Bake in the oven at 425º for another 5-7 minutes, until crust is golden brown.
Why bake the pesto, you ask? I think it gives the garlic a roast-y taste, which I like.
Step 5: Strain the marinade and scoop contents on top of pizza.
Straining the marinade is crucial. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck with the most greasy pizza of all time, and that’s not what we’re about here. Just stick it in a colander, let the oil drip out for a few minutes, and scoop the remaining salad on top of the pizza.
I’d be surprised if you’ve had anything like this pizza before. It tastes so fresh. One thing I really like about this pizza is that the need for tons of salt is minimal, as the parsley and lemon take care of that. It throws so many flavors at you at once, but they all seem to complement each other so nicely. These flavors really have seemed to taken a liking to each other and get along so well. I think they’ll be friends for a long time to come, and my mouth isn’t complaining.
If you’re interested on trying any of my other pizzas, take a look at the following:
- the tomato base, Easy Ricotta Pizza
- the refried bean base, Mexican Pizza
- the hummus base, Hummus Pizza with Cucumber Cream Sauce
- the creamy garlic base, Creamy Dreamy Garlic Pizza
If you happen to try making this pizza and are on Instagram, take a picture of it and use the hashtag #thisvegangirl so I can take a peek. I’d love to see how it worked out for you. Don’t forget to add me on Facebook, too, as I post all my blog updates on there.
August 18, 2014 By This Vegan Girl
I’ll admit that I never cared about making this soup until I had an intense craving of grilled cheese sandwiches, which I made here (vegan and gluten-free, y’all!). With my mind now on grilled cheese sandwiches, my next thought was, “How am I going to pull off making my own tomato soup?” Honestly, HOW on EARTH can you make grilled cheese sandwiches without the tomato soup?
The tomato soup is the elegant hero here. Without it, what would we have? Just cheese and bread? Horrible. Homemade tomato soup gives class and nourishment to an otherwise disgustingly boring, nutrition-lacking meal.
Oh, this soup makes my heart sing. The basil really gives the soup a superior taste. Dipping my grilled cheese into this soup and placing it in my mouth might have been the highlight of my week. The best part is that most of these ingredients are ones you probably already have in your kitchen! Woo hoo!
Tomato Basil Soup
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Yield: 3-4 cups of soup
For the oven:
- 4 Roma tomatoes, sliced
- 2 tbs grape seed oil
- 2 tbs balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 tsp garlic salt
- 1/4 tsp coconut sugar
For the stove:
- 1 heaping cup grape tomatoes
- 1/4 cup onion, chopped
- 1 tsp coconut oil
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 heaping tablespoons basil, minced
Step 1: Prepare the tomatoes for the oven.
Preheat the oven to 400º. Slice the tomatoes, leaving the stem part out. I cut mine out, as shown below:
Grease your baking sheet and place the tomatoes on the sheet. Pour/season the tomatoes with the grape seed oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic salt, and coconut sugar.
Place the tomatoes in the oven for 30 minutes. They’ll be nice and roasted by the time they’re done, and your house will smell AMAZING.
Step 2: Cook your stove-top ingredients.
Start off your frying pan with coconut oil with your chopped onion and grape tomatoes on medium heat. There’s no need to cut your grape tomatoes, as they will burst with flavor as soon as they food processed. Cook for about 5-7 minutes, when the onions are sweating and the tomatoes are slightly browned. Throw in the minced garlic cloves and cook for an additional minute. YUM!
After that, pour in the vegetable stock*, stir with a ladle, and let it sit on medium-low heat until the roasted tomatoes are done.
*NOTE: For those of you who use bouillon instead of stock (as I did), I used 4 cups of water for 2 teaspoons of vegetable bouillon. In a separate pot, I mixed the two ingredients and brought the mixture to a boil. After that, I poured the broth into the frying pan with the tomatoes and onions. Done!
Step 3: Combine the roasted tomatoes and stove-top ingredients in a food processor.
When the roasted tomatoes are finished, it’s time to turn all these ingredients into soup!
Dump the stove top ingredients and the roasted tomatoes in the food processor and mix it up! My food processor isn’t the greatest, so my soup was slightly chunky. You know what, though? I ended up liking it that way.
Once all the ingredients are mixed, place the soup back on the stove on low heat and take a deep breath: the hard part is over!
Step 4: Add fresh basil and serve.
Cooked basil sucks, which is why the last-minute addition is the way basil needs to be served.
Mince your basil as much as possible, making sure you can gather two heaping tablespoons of the yummy stuff. Do not skip this crucial ingredient! Put the tablespoons of basil in the big pot, give it a big mix, and serve!
Remember, don’t forget to pair the soup with my gluten-free vegan Grilled Cheese Sandwiches. I’m telling you, these two make the perfect pair.
If you try making this soup, don’t forget to take a picture of it, post it on Instagram, and use the hashtag #thisvegangirl so I can see it. I’d love to see how you present your grilled cheese and tomato soup. Speaking of Instagram, follow me! I post my day-to-day meals, if anyone gives a crap. I’m also on Facebook, too. Thanks for all your support!
August 15, 2014 By This Vegan Girl
Ever since I defied the “sucky vegan cheese” odds with my Quesadillas with Monterey Jack Cheese, I’ve been trying to think of new ways to use my invention.
This past week, I have been surrounded by children. My cousins (ages 11-12) came down to visit from Delaware, which allowed me to channel my inner tween. I also babysat my former colleague’s little girls (ages 6 and 8) for the week, for whom I was a personal chef of mini treats.
Surrounding myself around young ones all week put my mind in a juvenile place. It wasn’t surprising that by the middle of the week, I was having an intense craving for the ultimate American young’un meal: grilled cheese and tomato soup. And now, with my new discovery of melty vegan cheese, I could finally pull off this gem! Don’t forget to check out my Tomato Basil Soup, which goes perfectly with the grilled cheese sandwiches!
Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10-15 minutes
Yield: 4-6 grilled cheese sandwiches (depending on the size of the bread)
- 4 handfuls raw cashews (milled, OR soaked for 8 hours, then drained)
- 4 tbs nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp salt
- 2/3 cup coconut milk
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- your favorite bread (I used Trader Joe’s gluten-free vegan Brown Rice bread)
- grape seed oil or coconut oil, for frying
Step 1: Blend the raw cashews.
Let’s get the most difficult part out of the way first, and that’s the cashew cheese. I have a NutriBullet, which has a milling blade that grinds cashews to a flour without the need for soaking. (Seriously people, buy a NutriBullet. They’re the best.) I believe a coffee grinder will do the job, as well. For the non-soakers, blend your cashews first before adding the rest of the ingredients.
For most of you, you will need to soak your cashews for 8 hours prior to making this meal. Once the soaking is over, drain your cashews. Make sure you have a strong blender or food processor to avoid chunks of wet cashews (ew). For the soakers, you’ll probably need blend the cashews and coconut milk first before adding the rest of the ingredients.
Step 2: Blend the rest of the cashew cheese ingredients.
Blend ingredients until you have a smooth, thick consistency. This cheese is really thick and oozy.
Step 3: Scoop cashew cheese onto your bread slices.
If you’re using frozen gluten-free bread like I did, you’re going to want to toast your bread before you scoop. Don’t cook the bread fully, but toast it just enough to evaporate the wetness and make it warm throughout. (Disregard if you’re not using frozen bread).
Lay out your bottom slices and scoop 2-3 heaping tablespoons of cashew cheese onto your bread. Our bread is small, so we use 2 tablespoons of cheese per sandwich. If you’re using bigger bread slices, feel free to use three, or even four, scoops of cashew cheese. With the back of your spoon, spread the cheese evenly throughout the bread slice.
Once the cheese is on the bottom slice, place your top slice on top of the cheese, making the sandwich kiss. Resist the urge to smoosh the sandwich down, as we don’t want the cheese to drip down the bread.
Step 4: Fry your sandwiches on both sides.
In a frying pan on medium-low or medium heat, pour about 2 tablespoons of oil onto the pan. Place your sandwiches onto the pan. I like to shake the pan around for a few seconds to help move the oil throughout the bottom of the bread.
Keep checking the face-down part of your bread every minute or so. When your bread becomes golden brown, flip the sandwich over. You might want to pour another tablespoon of oil onto the pan and mix it around again, just as an added measure to prevent break stickiness (the worst). Your bread should be ready to remove from the pan within the next few minutes.
Step 5: Slice in half and enjoy!
I paired this bread with my Tomato Soup recipe, and oh my goodness, it was a dream. It was the perfect thing to dip my sandwich into! I haven’t enjoyed this treat in so long, and it was such a treat to indulge in this cruelty-free delight.
If you make the grilled cheese sandwiches, I have an amazing Tomato Basil Soup (seen above) to pair it with! Also, don’t forget to take a picture of it, post it on Instagram, and use the hashtag #thisvegangirl so I can see it. I’d love to see your grilled cheese sandwiches and how you decide to present them. Speaking of Instagram, follow me! I post my day-to-day meals, if anyone gives a crap. I’m also on Facebook, too. Thanks for all your support!
Happy reminiscing (whilst cooking),
August 7, 2014 By This Vegan Girl
The word “porridge” makes me think of something I’d hate. Lumpy, tasteless nast. Perhaps a mix between grits (which I’ve never liked) and bland oatmeal, which sounds absolutely awful, doesn’t it?
I’m pleased to say that my quinoa porridge tastes nothing like that! It’s delightfully sweet, a hearty texture, and pleasantly filling.
So, what’s the difference between this and, say, the Almond Butter Smoothie Bowl? Not much, actually! If you want something more light, go with the smoothie bowl. If you want something more substantial and pie-tasting, then try the quinoa porridge.
Using vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg in this recipe make you feel like you’re enjoying a decadent pie. This is the perfect breakfast for someone who wants protein, has a sweet tooth, and wants something that won’t do damage on your figure.
Peach Pie Quinoa Porridge
Prep Time: 15-20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes (can be done during prep time)
Yield: 4 bowls (adjust measurements accordingly)
For the base:
- 6 bananas, frozen or ripe
- 4 peaches, pitted
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- coconut milk or almond milk
- 2-3 handfuls of dark leafy greens (optional)
- 1 cup cooked quinoa
- 4 peaches, pitted and diced
- hemp hearts
- chia seeds
Step 1: Start cooking the quinoa.
Start by gathering one cup of uncooked quinoa and two cups of water. Pour these items together in a pot. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.
I prefer cold porridge (like Mama Bear), so when my quinoa is done cooking, I’ll place my quinoa into the freezer for a few minutes to cool down. You might prefer hot porridge, in which case you would scoop your quinoa directly into your porridge bowl.
Step 2: Prepare the base.
In essence, the base is a smoothie. A mock-dessert smoothie, that is. Thankfully, only spices create the illusion that you’re indulging in a pie, so you don’t need to worry about added sugar.
First, add all the “base” contents EXCEPT COCONUT/ALMOND MILK into your blender or food processor. I personally use a NutriBullet for my smoothie needs. Add the milk last, filling it up until it almost reaches the top of the rest of the contents. You don’t want to add too little (too lumpy) or too much (too watery).
As I mentioned before, I like my porridge cold, so I’ll use frozen bananas and frozen dark leafy greens to make the base a little icy. If you’d prefer your porridge to be warm/hot, you might opt for non-refrigerated fruit and milk as your base.
The dark leafy greens are optional because they don’t do anything for the taste or texture. I throw in these greens to create the most nutritious breakfast I can. If that’s not your style, leave it out! The base will turn out a beautiful peach color instead of a deep green, which might look more appealing to the dubious guest.
Once the base is ready, I place my porridge bowls in the freezer to keep cold until everything is ready. Otherwise, pour your base in bowls and set aside.
Step 3: Prepare toppings.
Cut up your peaches and gather all your nuts and things. I didn’t have walnuts this day, so I opted to use chopped almonds instead. Personally, the almonds failed in comparison, as they were a bit too crunchy next to the other contents in the bowl. It’s all about preference, though. Use whatever nuts/seeds you have on-hand. Don’t be stressed if you don’t have everything, as all the added nuts and seeds are optional.
Step 4: Create your bowl and serve.
Each smoothie bowl should receive roughly 1/4 cup of quinoa, 1 sliced peach, 1 tbs hemp hearts, 2 tbs walnuts, and 1 tsp chia seeds.
I like to decorate my bowl to make it look as pretty as possible. Ultimately, you end up mixing everything together to get the full “porridge” effect, so the beauty is a fleeting moment in time. That’s why I take pictures of all my decorated bowls on Instagram. 🙂
By the way, the peach route isn’t the only way you can take this bowl. In fact, I’ve made this exact bowl with strawberries, blueberries, mango, pineapple, and raspberries. See what’s in-season and go for it! You can see my day-to-day bowls on my Instagram account. Follow me there and see what I’m eating for the day. Also, I’d love to get inspired by you. If you use one of my recipes, take a picture and use #thisvegangirl so I can see your creations!
August 1, 2014 By This Vegan Girl
In Florida, it’s unfortunate, and a little surprising, that vegan and/or raw food restaurants are hard to come by. Cities give you more options, but finding a vegan restaurant in a little town? Fa getta bout it.
When I go to visit my parents in South Florida, it’s a miracle that we have Christopher’s Kitchen in Palm Beach Gardens. It’s a raw vegan restaurant with modern cuisine that my whole family loves. My sister and I always order the Iron Man smoothie, which inspired me to start adding cinnamon to my smoothies with yellow & orange fruit in it! (Seriously, try it.) Matt has a wide selection of gluten-free options, too. It’s just a fantastic restaurant.
When I bought my Prius back in March, we decided to try Christopher’s to celebrate and/or gorge ourselves afterward. For anyone who has bought a car from a dealership before, it’s a guarantee that you’re starving by the time you leave. Thus, we went a little crazy when we went to the restaurant.
We ordered an appetizer called the Fiesta Potatoes, and we fell in love. With Matt being gluten-free and me being vegan, he’s oddly obsessed with potatoes, and I’m oddly obsessed with avocados, so this side dish satisfies both weaknesses. We’ve been copying the recipe ever since!
Prep Time: 10-15 minutes (can be done during cook time)
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Yield: 4 sides
- Petite red potatoes, quartered into 3 cups
- 2-3 tbs olive oil
- 3 ripe avocados, mashed
- 2-3 garlic cloves
- 1/3 cup grape tomatoes, diced
- 1/3 cup red onion, diced
- 2 tbs lime juice
- salt and pepper to taste
- hot sauce (optional)
Step 1: Wash, cut, and bake your potatoes.
Use the olive oil on the baking pan, put the cut pieces of potato on top, and move the potatoes around the dish with your fingers until every potato is coated with olive oil. Bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes.
Step 2: Make the guacamole.
You have plenty of time to make the guacamole AND clean up the kitchen afterward!
Once the fruits and veggies are cut, put all remaining ingredients in a large bowl. I love chunky avocados in guacamole on any given day, but for this side dish, you’ll want keep your guacamole mashed and on the creamier side. It’ll help your guacamole bind to the potatoes. Therefore, I’ll use my potato masher if I have to.
When completed, set aside or put in the fridge until potatoes are finished.
Step 3: Mix potatoes in with guacamole.
Once the potatoes have finished cooking, dump the potatoes in your guacamole bowl, mix, and serve!
Only three steps for a recipe?! That might be a This Vegan Girl record low!
I love to pair this side dish with my Quesadillas with Monterey Jack Cashew Cheese! Click here to see the recipe.
If you make any of my dishes, take a picture and tag me on Instagram using #thisvegangirl to let me know how it went!