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Salsa Verde

20 May

Cinqo de Mayo came and went but my hankering for Mexican food has lingered on. Maybe it’s the steadily climbing temperatures or the brightly shining sun. Maybe it’s the Rick Bayless marathon that made me want to whip out my new Magic Bullet blender my mom got me for Christmas. Or maybe it’s D and mine first garden together beginning to bear us fruit but I am in the mood for FRESH.

The farmers markets are calling, fruit is IN season and the thought of having anything heavy, baked or oily seems sacrilegious somehow. So what am I in the mood for?


Yummy, cool, refreshing, cilantro-e, lime-y, avocado-e salsa.

I got the idea for this salsa from watching Rick Bayless the Saturday before Cinqo de Mayo. I’ve been making it almost once a week since D. and I can’t seem to get enough of it.

I like it best on tacos. Hard shell tacos, soft corn or flour tortillas or in burritos. Drizzled in Cally-style breakfast tacos with home-fries and scrambled tofu. Stuffed into tacos with refried beans, lettuce, Dayia Cheese, and soy-crumbles or “chicken” strips. Or just served as chips and salsa. This salsa verde will make you feel like summer is just around the corner (and if you’re in Arizona, you’re not going to care!)


– Mags


4 tomatillos – peeled from their papery husks and quartered

1 large or 1-1/2 medium ripe avocados

1 Tbs (or more if you like it hot) finely chopped jalapeno pepper (remove the seeds and veins if you don’t like the heat)

juice of two limes

2 green onions chopped OR 1 small onion (and I mean small – ping-pong size. If you can’t get these, 1/3 regular onion) finely chopped

handful cilantro chopped roughly

1 tsp salt

Toss tomatillo, avocado and jalapeno in blender and mix into uniform mass. Pour out into bowl. Add in chopped onion, lime juice, salt and cilantro. Stir to mix. Serve chilled.


A Shout-out to Sarah Kramer

10 Jan

I have been on a cooking binge lately, so, dear readers, I have a backlog of recipes I want to share with you. Today, however, I will be sharing something that I cannot claim to be entirely my idea (or at all for that matter) but which turned out to be so delicious and exciting for me that I couldn’t help but share with you. Some of you may be familiar with the cool, chic, gorgeous, and inspiring vegan chef extraordinaire Sarah Kramer. You may know her from “How It All Vegan“, “The Garden of Vegan” and more recently “La Dolce Vegan“. I think she’s done an amazing job spreading the word on the vegan lifestyle in all that it encompasses is a cool and approachable way. “How It All Vegan” was actually one of the first books I picked up when I was first dabbling with veganism. C. recently acquired a copy of “La Dolce Vegan” and kindly lent it to me. Inside I found a recipe for Tu-no sandwiches and I jumped on it. It’s gluten-free, cheap and easy to make and sooooo delicious! I was beyond excited as I bit into my sandwich today at lunch, especially since I have also found a gluten-free bread that doesn’t taste like cardboard! (Actually, it’s as close to GF bread, as Tofurkey Italian Sausage is to meat sausage – not quite it, but so much better in the sense that it’s cruelty-free (to my poor intestines) and close enough to the real thing.) I, of course, altered the recipe to my tastes so I hope Ms. Kramer doesn’t mind if I post my version here. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did (which means, lots of exclamations of delight and smacking of lips.)


Gluten-free Tu-No Cheeze Melt

(makes 2 servings)

1/2 C tempeh, crumbled
1/4 C Veganaise
2 hot pickles, mashed into a relish
a solid sprinkling of pepitas (approx 1-2 Tbs)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried dill
juice of 1/2 lime
1 garlic clove, minced
salt and pepper to taste

1 slice Tofutti Mozzarella
2 slices Ener-G white rice bread, toasted

Mix all ingredients in a bowl, slop on one piece of toast, cover with other side of toast smothered with melted Tofutti Mozzarella and devour!

Soul food Polish-style

7 Jan

One of my favorite foods in the world are potato pancakes or placki ziemnaczane. My earliest memories include my babcia (grandmother) grating the young golden potatoes, mixing up the batter and frying them up to a crispy goldenness and sliding them onto my plate fresh off the frying pan. I would gobble them up, in heaven as the little apartment filled up with the sweet and savory smell of frying potatoes. Hmm. To this day, potato pancakes remain my favorite food and a food in which I take extreme comfort, from the preparation to the final moment of feasting.

Becoming vegan raised the question of whether I would be able to continue enjoying this comfort food, as you need an egg to bind my babcia’s recipe. I have experimented and discovered, that flax meal works wonders and adds a slightest touch of nuttiness, which works great when fried, while apple sauce adds a touch of sweet. Today I share with you my vegan potato pancake recipe. These taste just as good (of course, nothing beats babcia’s, sure you understand). You can grate them finely almost to a mush, if you want a more pancake-y effect; this will make the grated potato give off more water, and you will need to add more flour. This time, I grated the potatoes coarsely with the effect of a more hashbrown-y pancake. The taste, is fantastic either way!

Potato Pancakes with Mushroom-Thyme Gravy, Tempeh-Mushroom Crumble and steamed green-beans

Potato Pancakes Polish Style

4 medium potatoes (grated to 3 C)

½ C Trader Joe’s Gluten Free pancake mix (or ½ C regular flour if you aren’t gluten free)

1 Tbs flax meal mixed with 3 Tbs warm water (option – 1/3 C unsweetened apple sauce)

1 tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

Grate potatoes.  Add flax meal and mix thoroughly. Add flour. Season with salt and pepper.

(Note: If you end up grating the potatoes finely, you will end up having to add more flour. You want the effect of American pancakes, not runny like for crepes – a bit clumpy and thick but wet enough to pour into a pancake shape. The thickly grated pancakes will result in a much clumpier batter and you will have to shape them on the griddle.)

Heat griddle or skillet. Spray with cooking spray or pour in enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan (olive oil is not the best choice here – try canola, corn or vegetable oil). The cooking spray works just fine, but the more oil, the crispier the pancake will be.  Pour in batter into palm-size pancakes. Cook until golden brown and flip. Serve immediately.

To serve, sprinkle with sugar (I know it sounds weird, but if you can eat sugar (which I do not), it’s very tasty.), spread yogurt or sour cream (or the vegan alternative) or throw your favorite sauce on them. This time, I served them up with Mushroom-Thyme Gravy, Tempeh-Mushroom Crumble (Tempeh and diced mushrooms sauteed in Earth Balance with salt, pepper and a sprig of fresh thyme for the herby flavor.) with a side of steamed green beans.


– Mags

The secret to mag-nificent vegan ricotta

5 Jan

1) Cook with a friend in her totally rad pad!

2) Use a food processor – honest to goodness, it helps.

3) Cashews

Yesterday being the first day after my two week vacation of being back at work, I didn’t particularly feel like cooking, but knew that the extra effort on my part, would make the transition back to the hum-drum 8-5 life-style a tad less painful. The decision was sealed when C called, also not in the mood to cook. Two tired and cranky vegans make one awesome delicious meal – don’t ask me how it works – we defy the laws of physics.  I cooked up a most delightful, aromatic and oooooh so yummy ratatouille with the eggplant, teeny baby zucchini, yellow summer squash, mushrooms, onions, bell pepper, roma tomatoes and fresh thyme that I had been hoarding in my fridge. (Recipe to come, I promise!) I packed it in my handy reusable cloth bag and walked (yes – you heard me, walked!) over to C’s apartment. (C. is now my neighbor and it fills me with glee, despite the fact that the reasons for her being my neighbor are bittersweet, with a heavy dose of bitter.)

C has a new gadget – a fine specimen of a food processor. My does this make a huge difference! Blenders, being by nature oblong and wielding a puny (by comparison) blade, tend to get clogged when prepping thicker pate-like substances. Food processors are like a blender on spinach! Yay! In any case, I have recently discovered the secret to successful “cheesy” and “creamy” vegan sauces, cheeses, etc. – CASHEWS! I came upon them while experimenting with mac’n’cheezy, but only recently attempted them in several recipes (also coming soon – I need to remake them and take pictures!) Ricotta is another recipe made phenomenal through the help of that humble little cashew.

On a side note, did you know that cashews are not a nut? They’re not! Cashews are little pods that hang off the bottom of apple-like tropical evergreen plants. They are encased in a shell that is abrasive to us people, much like poison ivy, and so they need to be processed mechanically to remove them, before they are safe to eat by us! But once we get them, boy oh boy are they tasty!

Anyway, C and I used cashew to make our ricotta, and the texture and taste was spot on! Mixed with the flavorful ratatouille, it was fantastic! Hope you give it a shot! (Oh and by the by, I am sure that you can totally use a blender. I don’t own a food processor, so most of my work gets done in the blender. The effect might be a tad more creamy, that’s all. It’ll still taste ah-mazing!)

Mag-nificent Ricotta

1 package Trader Joe’s Tofu (the high protein firm kind)

1/2 C raw cashews (you could even go to 3/4 C)

juice of 1/2 lemon

1 Tbs olive oil

2 Tbs nutritional yeast

1 tsp lemon garlic salt

a dash of chili flakes (less than 1/8 tsp)

1/4 tsp black pepper

Throw the ingredients in a food processor (or blender) and mix until the consistency is a big grainy but creamy, like ricotta! Serve with your favorite veggies, ratatouille or sauce on pasta, spread on a lasagna, stuff into manicotti or try something new!

Cheers to all and a Happy New Year!

– Mags

Addendum: mac’n’cheeze

13 Nov

I did it!!! Vegan mac’n’cheeze that tastes not like boxed crap but the REAL dairy home-made thing, except ITS VEGAN! YooHHOOOO! 🙂

I took all of you gentle folks’ advise and threw a whole bunch of stuff together. The result was amazing! Only problem is, that I didn’t keep a record of the exact ingredients, but, off the top of my head, I think this is it. When I remake it, I promise to keep a closer eye on the proportions. I hope that you give it a shot and play around with ratios and ingredients on your own!

The Ultimate, the AMAZING totally AWESOMELY VEGAN Mac’n’cheeZee


GF pasta – cooked and drained (about 1/3 -1/2 bag dry)
1 C soy milk (unsweetened) + extra for blending of cashews
2/3 c raw cashews
1 Tbs natural peanut butter
1 tsp miso
1 tsp adobo
garlic powder
1/2 C nutritional yeast
1 C grated vegan cheddar (I used Vegan Gourmet because it’s the cheapest I’ve found that still melts and tastes pretty decent – especially when doctored up.)
1 tsp corn starch
1-2 tsp Dijon mustard
If you are not GF add 1 tsp Vegan Worcestershire sauce – does wonders for mac’n’cheese!!!

Cremini mushrooms or Portobello skillet grilled and seasoned with salt and pepper
chipotle salsa


Blend the cashews (or if you are lucky enough to possess a food processor, use that) adding soy milk (or your preferred non-dairy milk) until you get a smooth paste.
Heat the 1 C of soy milk in a pot and whisk in corn starch. Heat until begins to bubble and thicken. Turn heat down to medium-low. Add all the ingredients working pretty quickly.
Start by adding the nutritional yeast, whisking while you add it. When it is incorporated, add the cashew butter, peanut butter, miso, dijon, adobo and other spices. Add the grated vegan cheese last. Stir in the pasta and mushrooms (if you choose to use them). Serve with ketchup (if you eat sugar) or my preferance: chipotle salsa.

Peace and enjoy!
– Mags

The search for the ultimate vegan mac’n’cheese continues

4 Nov

As you all know, part of the premises of this blog are that vegan foods can be just as good if not better than non-veggie meals. Also, that you can make vegan foods that taste and/or eerily resemble “the real thing”. There are some foods, however, which probably will never even come close to the real thing. Mac’n’cheese is one of those. Being the stubborn human that I am,  I refuse to accept this fact and have embarked on an odyssey in search of the (ta-tee-ta-da) ultimate vegan mac’n’cheese. I will admit to you, dear readers, right now, that THIS is not it. However, it is creamy, rich, flavorful and SMELLS like the real thing, so, HEY we’re getting there! And as far as taste goes, it definitely hits the spot. So there you have it, cheap, quick and sort of cheesy, definitely mushroomy and moderately goulashy vegan mac’n’cheese.


– Mags

The Goulashy aka vegan mac’n’cheese


The Goulashy


1/2 bag Gluten Free Shells pasta (if you are not GF, regular pasta works as well, of course)

1-1/2C unsweetened soy milk

1 Tbs corn starch

1/2 C nutritional yeast flakes

1/2 C plain soy yogurt

1 tsp dijon mustard

1 tsp peanut butter

1 tsp miso

salt and pepper (to taste)

1/2 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp chili powder

1/4 tsp turmeric

1/2 container cremini mushrooms

2 cloves garlic minced

1 Tbs olive oil


Boil pasta according to instructions to al dente.

In the meantime, heat up olive oil and saute sliced mushrooms. After they have coated in oil and started to change color, season with salt and pepper. This makes them aromatic. Add garlic at the end until just starts to get golden. Set aside.

After pasta is al dente, drain it and prepare the cheese sauce in the pot:

Heat up soymilk and whisk in corn starch. When the milk begins to thicken, add the nutritional yeast and whisk in. Add the “wet flavorings” ie. the peanut butter, miso, dijon mustard and yogurt and whisk in . Add the dry seasonings and whisk. Fold in the pasta and coat thoroughly with cheese sauce. Add mushrooms and garlic and serve.

Is also great reheated the next day.


It looks and smells like mac'n'cheese - but does it taste like it? Only YOU can find out!











Ideas for future endeavors:

* use almond or cashew butter or tahini – almond butter will add a mildly sweet taste and add more texture, cashew butter will make it much more creamy and tahini will make it creamy, thick and almost swiis cheese flavored (slightly bitter after taste)

* shred in vegan cheese in block form for more cheesy texture

If you have any ideas or experiences with vegan mac’n’cheese please share!! We’d love to hear from you!

Soup in a Jiffy

12 Aug

Ah, soup. The perfect way to use up vegetables one has no clue what to do with and that are not the freshest in the bin! I have been obsessing about how I am going to use up the rest of my pack of celery before it decomposes. And those poor left over organic carrots that would be atrocious to throw out. What to make, what to make?


And not just any soup – creamy sweet potato soup! Based on the versatile yet simple vichyssoise, but altered and bumped up to excellent, this simple (and cheap) soup is quick and easy to make and bound to make you come back for seconds.. or thirds (or if you are my boyfriend, just finish the entire pot :))

Here it is:

Creamy Sweet Potato Soup

(makes about 4 generous servings)

1/4 C butter

1/2 C diced onion

1 C diced celery (3 medium/large stalks)

1 large sweet potato or yam (the orange fleshed kind), peeled and cubed into 1/2-1″ cubes

3 small (1/2 inch diameter) carrots, peeled and cubed into 1/2-1″ cubes

1 Tbs vegetable broth powder dissolved in 3 C hot water

1 C unsweetened soymilk

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in large soup pot. Add onion and celery and cook until aromatic.

Add cubed carrots and sweet potato. Cook for another 1-2 minutes.

Add vegetable broth and cook until sweet potatoes and carrots are soft.

Transfer to blender and blend until smooth.

Transfer back to pot and add soy milk and season.

Cook for another minute. Let sit for a couple minutes and serve.

This is also tasty poured over some cooked brown rice. Soup is mildly sweet and very creamy.


– Mags