Quick Quinoa

You come home from ________ which took longer than you anticipated and are exhausted ~ only you remember that you still need to make supper.  No problem…you have a plan…until you open the cupboard/frig/freezer and discover a) somebody’s eaten a crucial ingredient to your plan, b) formerly mentioned crucial ingredient has spoiled, or c) you are actually missing said ingredient that you thought you picked up at the grocery store last week.  Now what?

This recipe is what ~ at least for me two nights ago!  Quinoa (pronounced keenwa) is a super fast “grain” to cook up.  (It’s actually a seed, but it’s texture and behavior is more grain-like.  It has no gluten and loads of protein.)  It adds plenty of substance to a dish for the hungry hordes who can’t subsist on haute cuisine’s small portions.

Even as I made this as a substitute for what I was supposed to make, I found out I still had an ingredient problem.  When I opened the new salsa/picante sauce jar and poured it into the measuring cup, lo and behold, it wasn’t enough!!  (I was doubling this recipe.)  I already had some of the ingredients cooking.  What was I going to do?  Then I remembered I had some cans of Rotel diced tomatoes and green chilis.  Perfect.  I was so excited that I opened the can and tossed the whole thing into the frying pan…without measuring it.  Rats.  Did I mention that I was exhausted out of my mind?  Mmm.

Well, now I figured I would have a slightly soupy mix.  I could either take the lid off and cook it all down, taking more time than I was willing to give, OR I could get some soycurls out of the freezer, snap them into small pieces, and throw them into the mix to soak up the excess.  (What are soycurls?  Read this.)  I went with the soycurls ~ just 1 c. for the doubled recipe.  Perfect!  Hubby announced that the dish needed more soycurls…go figure.  I could have left them out if I hadn’t dumped so much liquid in!

This dish can be as mild or spicy as you like, depending on the salsa, picante sauce, or canned diced tomato/green chilis you have on hand.  Serve it with soy sour cream, diced avocado, and/or shredded vegan cheese.  Add a veggie and your are set to go ~ all in about 20-30 minutes.

Quick Quinoa

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1-2 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 c. quinoa, rinsed well and drained
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1-1 1/2 c. salsa or picante sauce, your choice of mild to hot **
  • 1 1/2 c. water
  • 1/2 c. soycurls, optional (use full measure of salsa/picante sauce if adding these.)

Saute the chopped onion in olive oil until a few pieces are beginning to brown on the edges and the rest are softened.  Add remaining ingredients.  Stir and cover, simmering for 15-20 minutes.  Stir occasionally.  Taste quinoa to test if it is fully cooked (tiny “tails” or curls will loosen from the kernels as they reach preparedness.)  Add extra salsa or water as needed to keep from sticking if extra cooking time is required.  If it seems too soupy, take the lid off and continue simmering.

** Use 1 c. if you want a drier end result.  You can always add more salsa as the dish simmers if it seems like the quinoa isn’t soft yet, but things are getting dry.  If you want to add 1/2 c. of soycurls, use the full 1 1/2 c.

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Vegan Ice Cream

Memorial Day ~ can you believe it?  Summer is upon us.  And the thought pops into your head unbidden….ice cream!!!  But can vegans have ice cream?  Of course they can ~ of the non-dairy variety!  Not only are there some marvelous ones available on the market these days, but recipes abound on the internet, too.

Unfortunately, a lot of the recipes I’ve found online use a teeny tiny ice cream maker ~ about 1-1 1/2 quart-sized.  Well, honey, let me tell you…that is not going to cut it with my family!  When all the kids lived at home we had 6 of us standing around the ice cream maker with bowls and spoons in hand waiting for it to hurry and finish.  And we didn’t want any 1/2 c. serving, either.  (Yes, I know…there may be a good reason I’m not a svelte vegan.  But if you saw my kids and hubby and how lean they are….well, it probably doesn’t have much to do with the ice cream.)  Even though this recipe will be for a 1/2 gallon/4 quart sized churn, my personal one is now a 6 quart!  😀  Any extras can be frozen in individual-serving-sized Tupperware for later.  (Note:  it must be thawed a while, as it comes out like a brick due to no weird additives or gums added to keep it from freezing solid.)  Depending on the churn you own/buy this can be made quickly, or take a bit longer.  If you like a soft-serve ice cream, you can churn this and open it immediately to eat it.  Follow your manufacturer’s user manual for proper churning and ice/salt ratio.  (Right now I’d love to get a new churn, because mine isn’t very efficient and leaves the center rather runny while the outer edges are frozen solid enough that the dasher won’t turn any more ~ it didn’t do this when I first bought it.  While my hubby doesn’t like to eat any fruited ice creams much to our chagrin, he does love ice cream the consistency of a milkshake.  So, he gets all the middle stuff and we scrape the outside edges for the rest of us!  I guess we’ll be forgiving then with his other ice cream foibles!  ;))

Because I can control the ingredients, this ice cream has fewer calories than the packaged store-bought variety.  I unscientifically figured out the approximate calories of a cup of vanilla (using the nutrition labels on the ingredients I put into it) and came up with about 143 calories.  This was using full sweetener (rather than substituting any stevia for part of it) and the tofu option.  Not too shabby if you can keep yourself down to 1-2 cups!  Most desserts are more caloric than this.

I am going to lay out my basic vanilla soy recipe for you ~ and I’ll give you other options for different flavors (the really fun part!), ways to substitute for allergies (to soy and nuts specifically**), and sweetener options.  There is a lot of leeway for adjustments in this particular ice cream.  It makes it very easy on you.

*Again, ice cream churns vary ~ so it would be a good thing if you have extra non-dairy milk on hand in case your church is actually bigger than it says it is.  My last 1/2-gallon Rival-brand churn made about 12 cups of ice cream measured out!

Vegan Ice Cream

  • 1/2 gallon non-dairy milk (soy, almond, coconut-not the canned+)
  • 1/2 c. raw cashews (can be more for a richer product – see tofu comment)
  • 1 pkg. Morinu tofu, drained (you may omit this and use a total of 1 c. cashews instead for a richer product.)
  • 1 1/2 c. sweetener (this can be sugar, evaporated cane juice crystals, honey, maple syrup, etc.  You can also substitute 1/2-1 tsp. pure stevia extract powder for 1/2-1 c. of the sweetener.  You may mix and match these sweeteners.  If you make a fruit ice cream, use a can of frozen juice concentrate in a matching flavor, or use white grape for a non-descript flavor to meld well with any fruit in place of the other sugars.  Because the fruit is so sweet, you don’t need the heavier sweeteners, although you could add a little bit of stevia or other choice to boost the sweetness if you have a sweet tooth.)
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • vanilla to taste.

Place cashews in blender and add just enough non-dairy milk to blend nuts until very creamy and smooth.  You don’t want any graininess left from tiny cashew pieces.  Add other ingredients with enough milk to blend them.  Pour into a 1/2 gallon freezer container/churn.  Add extra milk until you reach the “fill to this mark” line.  Freeze according to manufacturer’s directions.

**For soy allergies, omit the tofu and increase cashews to 1 c. total; use almond or coconut milk.  For nut allergies, omit cashews and double tofu; use soy or coconut milk+.

+Newsflash!  You might not want to use coconut milk for this unless your ice cream maker is very cooperative in it’s freezing nature.  With my wonky freezer I tried using Silk vanilla coconut milk last night after I already had this typed up and ready to post.  I had to laugh ~ some of the coconut fat from the milk was separated from the chocolatey coconut mix and frozen to the side all by itself!  It was tasty, but it wasn’t what I was going for!

Variations:  (The fun part!)

  • Chocolate:  Add 6-8 T. cocoa powder and a bit of almond extract along with the vanilla.  Or you can just use chocolate non-dairy milk instead of vanilla or plain.
  • Strawberry:  Pour part of the blended mix into the ice cream freezer container if you have a small blender.  Use the remaining mix (or all of the mix if you have a large, strong blender) to blend 1-2 c. of fresh or frozen strawberries (if you use frozen, the ice cream will finish faster); pour into the freezer container.  Add more milk to the blender and whiz another 1-2 c. of berries.  You want a total of 3-4 c. of berries.  Almond extract is good here, too ~ just a little.  I find that juice concentrate can work fairly well with this variation, since the berries are sweet, too.
  • Maple Walnut:  Add 1/4-1/2 c. walnuts when you blend the cashews.  Increase salt to 3/8 tsp.  The sweetener should be at least half maple syrup and the other half whatever other sweetener you choose since maple syrup is pricey.  You may add a touch of maple extract with the vanilla if you wish.
  • Pina Colada:  Add 1 1/2 c. pineapple juice, 1 can coconut milk, and a dash of coconut extract to the blender.  Or you may blend up some canned pineapple, too, but that tends to leave a couple of harsh clumps of fibers that aren’t much fun to come across while you are eating.  Another option would be to serve chilled crushed pineapple and shredded coconut on each serving.
  • Mint Chocolate Chip:  In a dry blender, or food processor, briefly whiz 1 c. of chocolate chips until tinier pieces.  Add to the freezer container after the milk mixture.  Add 1/2-1 tsp. mint extract or a few drops of peppermint oil to the blender.
  • Chocolate Chip:  As above, only omit the mint extract/oil.
  • Orange Cream:  (This one I haven’t perfected, but I’ll give you the idea so you can play with it.)  Add orange juice concentrate to the vanilla recipe.  Sometimes it comes out very strong ~ be careful how much you add.
  • Cookies and Cream:  After vanilla ice cream is done churning, remove the dasher and add in crushed chocolate sandwich cookies.  Stir well.  Put lid on and allow to harden according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Pumpkin:  (This is a strong pumpkin-flavored ice cream.  Decrease pumpkin for a milder version.)  Add a 15-oz can of pumpkin puree and 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice to the blender.
  • Black Cherry:  Use 1 c. apple cherry juice concentrate and 1/2 c. of another sweetener and plenty of vanilla.  Slice/halve 2 c. frozen cherries (to make sure there are no pits) or pit fresh cherries.  Whiz half of them with the blender mixture until fine; pour into freezer container.  Chop remaining cherries with more milk in the blender until in small pieces.  Add to freezer container.
  • Chocolate Cherry:  Combine the chocolate ice cream version with the chopped cherries in the Black Cherry version.  Use full sweetener or the cocoa will be too bitter.
  • Coconut:  Add a can of lite coconut milk to replace some of the milk.  Sprinkle shredded coconut on top of each serving if desired.
  • Chocolate Coconut:  Make chocolate ice cream using Silk vanilla coconut milk for the non-dairy milk.+
  • Rocky Road:  Make chocolate ice cream.  When finished churning, remove the dasher and stir in 1 c. small chocolate chips (or chop regular ones in a dry blender/food processor) and 1/2 c. chopped nuts.

If you think of any other variation ideas, please let me know!  Happy churning!  😀

Hummus

Everybody has a favorite hummus recipe, right?  Well…sometimes the answer is ‘no.’  This post is for those poor deprived souls who don’t already have their own go-to recipe for hummus.

This is super easy and so much cheaper than buying a tub of it in the store ~ some of them are quite pricey.  (And have you checked out the ingredients lists on some of those?  Ick.  I don’t like canola oil or vinegar.  I want healthier choices.)

Hummus

  • 1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 1/2-2 T. lemon juice
  • 2 T. tahini (Joyva is my favorite brand – for taste and ease of stirring)
  • 1-2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove fresh garlic (2-3 for garlic hummus)
  • 1/4-1/3 c. chopped onion
  • heaping 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4-1/3 c. water (depending on how watery your onion is, and desired thickness)

Blend either in food processor or blender until very smooth.

Variations:  add in one or more of the following ~ roasted garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, green onion, dillweed, spinach, etc.  Look at the flavors in the store and experiment with add-ins.  If you are adding in a slightly liquidy item, decrease your water.

French Onion Dip

My mom always used Lipton Onion Soup Mix to make French Onion Dip every New Year’s Eve and Super Bowl.  (You remember – with a carton of sour cream and a packet of the soup mix?)  Why she only made it 2 times a year is beyond me.  I loved that stuff!

Once I found out that Tofutti made soy sour cream, I figured as a vegan I could once again make this dip.  Alas, when looking at the ingredients list on the Lipton soup, I found something to which an offspring was allergic.  Rats.  So, I crossed it off my list for a while.

Eventually, I experimented and came up with this version of French Onion Dip.  You know, I love it just as much as my mom’s ~ and it’s healthier.  (Especially since I dip veggies into it instead of chips~usually!)

French Onion Dip

  • 1 container Tofutti soy sour cream
  • 1/16 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 T. dried minced onion pieces
  • 1/2 tsp. salt (increase or decrease to taste)
  • 2 tsp. Marmite or Vegex (a brewer’s yeast extract) –  (increase to 1 T. for a stronger flavor)

Mix all ingredients together.  Taste and add extra salt, onion powder, and/or Marmite to taste.  Use as a dip for veggies, chips, crackers, etc., or as a sandwich spread instead of mayo.

Blog Awards

Almost 3 weeks ago (*gasp* has it been that long?) I was honored with Kreativ Blogger and the Sunshine Blogger Awards by Kristy at Keepin’ It Kind.  I was so excited, overwhelmed, and honored!  You see, these awards are peer-nominated.  Just the fact that anybody out there in blogville knows I exist is pretty exciting to me!  The icing on the cake is finding out that my blog is enjoyed, too. Thank you, Kristy!

The thing with these awards is that they must/need to be passed on.  And it has taken me almost 3 weeks just reading other people’s blogs to know who I want to nominate in return.  (You see, I’m really new to this blog thing…and didn’t have a long list of favorites yet.  I knew a few right off the bat, but ten??  Hence the time lapse.)  It seemed to me that I needed to list 10 blogs that weren’t copy cats of other people’s lists.  As I bounced along Kristy’s list, as well as who had nominated her, and checked out all of those people’s blogs, I also found new lists of people who had been nominated.  I have had a marvelous time reading blogs….and it could become an addiction!  lol  I love funny blogs and recipe blogs best, and if they are combined, I’m seriously hooked.  😀  (But then, I love to read cookbooks for fun, too!)

Okay ~ okay, on to my list of Kreativ Blogger and the Sunshine Blogger Awards (in no particular order):

Project Kale ~ “This project is about a pushy, bossy, know-it-all vegan and all around health nut (Ali), helping a resistant-to-change, cheese-loving carnivore (Ann) transform her lifestyle into a full blown whole-foods, plant based diet loving hippie (well one step at a time).”  Very entertaining with yummy recipes!

Garden Goat Quote ~ An entertaining blog written by a mother of 9 kids.  She can put life into perspective for you and make you laugh!

It’s A Wicked Good Life! ~ A vegetarian recipe blog with wonderful twists of flavor.  Heidi is a fantastic baker with 2 little helpers and a hungry hubby.

Chocolate-Covered Katie ~ This is a healthy vegan dessert blog…that will make you drool.  It never fails that my stomach starts growling when I read her posts!

Garden Me ~ A lovely blog about things she is “passionate about, including gardening, cooking, giveaways, and my Creator’s loving commitment to garden me.”  Very beautiful photography, very relaxing.

Cadry’s Kitchen ~ This vegan blog is worth going to see even if you just watch her hilarious video clips!  My favorites are the “You might be a vegan if…” videos.  Her recipes are fabulous, too.  😀

Tessa the Domestic Diva ~ If you have allergies…of any kind…you are likely to find creatively invented recipes here for things you love.  She has done amazing things!  You will be in awe.

Healthy Blender Recipes ~ A funny and, at times, somewhat irreverent look at healthy eating.  Very entertaining.  There are a ton of recipes for special diets on this blog.  She also includes many give-aways, which are always fun.

Fork and Beans ~ A marvelous gluten-free blog dedicated to making things work.  She, too, has incredibly inventive recipes that recreate favorites from the gluten world.  For those of you who don’t need to avoid gluten, there are often substitutes given so that you can use wheat instead.  Yesterday, I won some gluten-free cookies on her site (cluelessly on my part.)

Oh She Glows ~ A lovely vegan recipe blog, chronicling her “life, favourite recipes, photography, and motivational musings on body-image, career happiness, and self-love.”

Apparently, the second part of this award process is to chronicle certain favorites (think chain e-mail…)

1. Favorite Color – PURPLE, hands down!
2. Favorite Animal – Cats, big and small
3. Favorite Number – People have favorite numbers?  Really?
4. Favorite non-alcoholic drink – Water
5. Prefer Facebook or Twitter – Facebook
6. My Passion – I have several ~ God, family, healthy living, homeschooling
7. Prefer getting or giving presents – Both
8. Favorite Pattern – See #3’s answer.
9. Favorite day of the week – The seventh.  Gen. 2:2 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.
10. Favorite Flower – Any purple ones that smell amazing!

Random Fact:  I am adopted.

Mounds Bars…er…Bark?

Necessity isn’t the mother of invention….laziness is!  Or at least it seriously has a role to play!  Think about it ~ who has the most to “gain” from inventing an easier way to do something?  (Deep down inside I am a very laid-back, lazy person.  It has only been because I am also a people-pleaser that I have become something different, because it is what is expected of me.)

On the day I set out to make a vegan version of a Mounds Bar, I did my internet recipe research to see what everybody else had done.  Oh, my mouth was watering!  I wanted one of these.  I played with the ingredients list and melted my chocolate chips.  I got everything ready and tasted the coconut filling.  Yes, it all tasted good, even if it wasn’t exactly like the recipes I’d found online.

My cute little mini-muffin liners (purchased on impulse who knows when from who knows where) were all separated and the plan was to make little layers from the chocolate and coconut mixtures.  And then I looked at the clock.  I looked everything I had laid out.  I thought about how long this was going to take and what a mess I was likely to make.  (And how long it would take to write about.)  There had to be a better way.

On a whim, I stirred half of the lovely coconut mixture into the melted chocolate.  Not enough.  I dumped in the rest of it and stirred madly.  I got a little spoon and tasted.  Hmmm.  Not bad.  I started filling all of the cute little muffin cups that were in an 8″x8″ pan (alas, no mini-muffin pan.)  At the end there was extra chocolate-coconut stuff, so I filled the papers to the very top.  There was still left-over melted candy.  I had a few more tiny muffin papers, but this time I put them on a cookie sheet so that they weren’t as squished as the others were.  Maybe the end product would look prettier.  I didn’t fill these to the top, either, to see if that was more aesthetically pleasing.  (Actually, buying some nice candy molds is highly recommended for this sort of thing, but I’ve never been able to justify the space they will take in my cupboards.)  When they were complete, there still was extra melted gooey yumminess left.

I cast about in my mind.  I could just eat what was left with a spoon….No, probably not a good idea.  I mentally peeked into my baking cupboard remembering there were no full-sized muffin papers in there.  What to do…what to do.  A light bulb went off.  I pulled out a piece of waxed paper, scooted the smaller candies over to one end of the cookie sheet, and spread the waxed paper across the other end.  I poured the remaining candy out, but it was so thick that it just stayed in a pile.  Spreading it out worked very well.  I made it pretty thin so that it can be broken once it’s chilled.

During a taste-testing session, my teens declared all of them delicious!  My favorite was the bark version.  R’s was the thick fudgy version.  J’s?  You guess it ~ ALL of them.  😀  The next day I served them to the whole family and everybody liked them.  We decided the muffin papers were a nuisance to peel, so molds are now on my to-buy list.

Mounds Bars…er…Bark?

  • 3 c. vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used Trader Joe’s)
  • 2 c. unsweetened finely shredded coconut
  • 1/3 c. virgin coconut oil (decrease to 1/4 c. or less to make into bark)
  • 1/2 c. honey or other liquid sweetener
  • dash of salt
  • splash or two of vanilla

Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler (or in a metal bowl set on top of a saucepan ~ this is what I actually use.)  Mix the remaining ingredients together*.  Decide you are much too lazy to form cute little Mounds bars or any such thing.  Once the chocolate chips are melted completely, mix the coconut mixture into the chocolate and stir (*or if you know ahead of time you will skip the fancy stuff, throw all the ingredients into the melted chocolate without pre-mixing it.)  Drop into molds, muffin papers, or spread out on waxed paper.  Chill.  Break into bark, pop out of molds, or peel out of papers.  Eat.  Smile.  🙂

Coconut Milkshake

Here is a simple way to get a vegan milkshake without the expensive containers of vegan ice cream getting involved.

Coconut Milkshake (and variations)

  • 1 frozen peeled banana, broken into pieces
  • Silk vanilla coconut milk
  • a sprinkle of pure powdered stevia extract

Place the banana and stevia in a blender.  Add just enough coconut milk to allow the blender to work properly.  This will depend on the strength of your blender, honestly.  That is why there is no measurement given for the milk.  Add extra coconut milk to determine how thick or thin you prefer your shake.  Pour into a glass and serve.

Variations:

  • Use almond or soy vanilla flavored milk in place of the coconut.  Add 1-2 T. of peanut butter and a sprinkle of stevia.  You could also add a spoonful of cocoa powder and a little more sweetener ~ or just use chocolate milk!
  • Use a plain flavored milk and add a drop or two of peppermint oil or extract.  If you want it to be green, add a few baby spinach leaves.
  • Toss in some blueberries.
  • Add some frozen pineapple chunks for a pina colada shake

Non-Dairy Milks Are NOT Created Equal

Maybe you already know this.  Maybe you’ve already experimented with many different non-dairy milks and are ages ahead of me.  But in the last 2 weeks it has been brought home in a big way in our household ~ Non-dairy milks are not created equal!

If you could open my refrigerator door, you would find a wild assortment of various milk alternatives.  Soy, chocolate soy, almond, dark-chocolate almond, coconut – 2 brands…let’s see, are there any others?  Oh, yes, plain soy milk for cooking and diluted vanilla soy.  Crazy, huh?  Here’s a peek at them.

You’ll notice I have several different brands.  The Blue Diamond almond milk was on sale this week, so we’re trying it out.  The Great Value soymilk from Walmart is comparable to Silk’s version – only the GV is organic and Silk’s blue label aren’t any more.  They have plain, vanilla, and chocolate (which isn’t pictured here, but I have one of those, too, since the brown Silk carton you see here is almost empty.)  I’ll mention some of the others later.

It would appear that all taste buds are not created equal, as well.  One kid was introduced to almond milk at a camp out 2 weeks ago and fell in love, which is why we’re trying out a new brand of that.  But hubby, I find out, hates almond milk (which explains why he avoids my treasured dark-chocolate almond milk ~ it isn’t just because of how deep chocolate it is! ~ and has his favorite soy chocolate milk which he thins with vanilla soy or diluted soy.  Strange man. ;D)  I love, love, love vanilla coconut milk ~ well, only one brand, but more on that in a moment.  My eat-just-about-anything teen loves them all.  (Whew!  At least there is one happy camper no matter what I buy.)

This all started years ago when we were dumped into the non-dairy milk aisle suddenly.  Our allergist found that we all were allergic to dairy!  Sadly enough, the choices 16+ years ago were a far cry from what is available now.  We tried what was available ~ and ended up with a very thick, but tasty, brownish soymilk made by Edensoy.  It was pricey ~ especially when I eventually was feeding 4 hungry children with it.  In defense of the thickness of the milk and the price, we started diluting it ~ 25% water at first ~ until we ended up half-and-half water and soymilk.  This became a habit to which we all were accustomed.

Enter Silk brand!  (Cheers, hats in the air, whistles!!!)  No sooner did we taste Silk vanilla than we turned our backs on Edensoy, never to look back.  (Sorry, Edensoy.)  We still kept the habit of adding 50% water to it, however.  Those 4 kids had grown and gotten hungrier!

There are now many, many kinds of non-dairy milk out there ~ from soy to hemp, of all things!  Oat, rice, almond, hemp, coconut, soy ~ have I missed any?  Vanilla, plain, chocolate….mmmm.  Even if you’ve tried almond milk (or another kind) and haven’t like it, keep trying other brands.  Not all brands are created equal.  (I think I mentioned that already.)  This week, I bought coconut milk from Trader Joe’s.  I have been happily consuming Silk’s vanilla coconut milk for weeks, but this was cheaper.  Unfortunately, it is modeled somewhat after So Delicious’ coconut milk, which I just am not all that fond of in comparison to Silk’s.  (It’s thinner, less flavorful, and the So Delicious almost seems to taste too much like dairy milk in my mind ~ which means some of you may love it!)

Overall, I think Silk brand has been the most proactive at developing new flavors and kinds.  They also have seasonal flavors in the fall that are marvelous.  If you check out their website, you can occasionally score coupons, too.

I will try to post a recipe using Silk’s coconut milk to make a simple milkshake soon after this post, since this didn’t include any specific recipe.

Let me know what your favorite kinds of non-dairy milk are!

General Tso’s Sauce

What do you do when you can’t find an inexpensive bottle or two of General Tso’s Sauce for your supper plans?  Well, either you go without, or spend the big bucks, right?  *BEEP*  Wrong answer.  ;D  You go to the website of your favorite brand of sauce and look at the ingredients list…and then use it to approximate amounts to create your own!  Or…at least…that’s what I did last night.  It was either that or use the veggies I had already purchased to make a very mundane stir fry instead.

My only fear came when I tasted the sauce.  MAN!!…was it salty!!!  But since I had never actually tasted the purchased sauce straight out of the bottle, I really didn’t have anything to go by.  My tofu had nothing flavoring it except the coconut oil in which I sauteed it and my veggies had no salt on them.  I took the risk.  I poured it over the tofu to marinate since it was finished first.  Once the veggies finished cooking I tossed it all together.

SUCCESS!  Best tasting General Tso’s yet!  Now that I realize just how much sweetener goes into it, I think that I will have to play around to make it more savory and less sweet just for health’s sake.  But for wow factor, this is the way to go.  😀

For comparison, here is the ingredients list from Iron Chef’s General Tso’s Sauce:  Sugar, soy sauce, water, vinegar, food starch, tomato paste, fresh garlic, dried garlic, red peppers, soybean oil, dried minced onion.

I made some substitutions and added some minced ginger.  I made a triple batch of this for my crew (and the teens were circling the empty serving dishes whining wishing for more.)  That’s why the measurements sometimes seem a bit odd.  It’s tough to split 1/2 tsp. into thirds!  Just for the sake of those of you who like to make large batches as I do, I’ll put the large batch’s measurements in parentheses after each ingredient.

General Tso’s Sauce

  • 1/4 c. evaporated cane juice crystals (or sugar) (3/4 c.)
  • 1-1 1/2 tsp. honey (1/4 c.)
  • 1/4 c. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (3/4 c.)
  • 1/4 c. + 2-3 T. water (1 1/4 c.)
  • 1 T. fresh organic lemon juice (3 T. – 1 small lemon)
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch (2 T.)
  • 4 tsp. organic tomato paste (4 T.)
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced (6 cloves; 4 T.)
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder (3/4 tsp.)
  • 1/8 tsp. (rounded measure) dried red pepper flakes (1/2 tsp.)
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp. toasted sesame oil (1 tsp.)
  • 1/4 tsp. dried minced onion (3/4 tsp.)
  • scant 1 tsp. fresh ginger, minced (scant 1 T.)

Measure 2-3 T. water, mix in the cornstarch, and set it aside.  Place all other ingredients in a saucepan (making sure the tomato paste is thoroughly “dissolved”) and heat to just boiling.  Add the cornstarch mixture, stirring constantly until it loses it slightly milky color and begins to thicken.  Remove from heat and set aside until stir fry is complete and ready for sauce.

Makes approximately 1-1 1/4 c. of sauce.

Southwestern Skillet

If you are a new vegan, you may not have heard the question very often, “Where do you get your protein?”  (Well, just wait…you will.  For some reason, folks think if you don’t chew on an animal part or drink cow’s milk that there is no protein available to you.  Unfortunately, they forget that cows, pigs, and, yes, even gigantic elephants get their protein from…wait for it…plant food.)

As I was throwing this and that into this dish, I realized that it was going to be stacked with protein.  I was tempted to call it “Southwestern So-Where-Do-You-Get-Your-Protein Skillet,” but that seemed a bit cumbersome.  ;D  While I have pictured this served over rice, if you instead served it over quinoa, you would ramp up the protein even more (and it would be more authentic to the Southwest, for that matter.)  But seriously, it isn’t necessary to do that.  There’s plenty here without it.

This is a great dish to make when you get home from the grocery store and realize that either you missed just how ripe those tomatoes were that you bought, or the bag-boy/girl packed them in the bag next to the canned goods and they are smooshed and must be used right now, or be thrown away.  (Not that I’m bitter…)

I also noticed as I was putting this together that it appeared I was writing a commercial for Trader Joe’s!  It wasn’t meant that way, it just happened.  Since not everyone has access to one of those marvelous stores, I wrote the recipe non-brand-specific, but mentioned some of the products that I used.

This is also very tasty without the beans, but they really add a nice note to the dish.  If you are not a spicy-food fan, I would suggest cutting the chorizo in half.  If you like burn-your-mouth-off spicy, then cut down on the tofu.  If you don’t have some of the veggies on hand, throw in a jar of salsa instead – it won’t be quite as tasty, but in a pinch, sometimes you have to make due.  Also, if at all possible, use organic products for the best flavor.

Southwestern Skillet

  • 1 lg. onion, chopped
  • 8 oz. of frozen tri-colored bell pepper pieces/strips (half of the Trader Joe’s bag)
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 oz. soy chorizo (Trader Joe’s has a brand of this, and Tofurkey just brought one out, though I haven’t tried it yet)
  • 1 pkg. 14-16 oz. extra-firm water-packed tofu, rinsed, drained, and gently squeezed out
  • Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
  • 1/4-1/3 of a pound-bag of frozen sweet corn (Trader Joe’s white sweet corn is unparalleled for flavor)
  • 2 small or medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 can black beans, drained

Place the onion and peppers in a large skillet with some olive oil to saute.  Open the chorizo (there is no good way to do this, except maybe slit the casing up the entire side and scoop it out) and add it to the skillet.  When the onions are softening a little, crumble the tofu into the pan and squirt it in a few zig-zags of Bragg’s over it.  Stir.  When everything is bubbling, stir in the corn, tomatoes, and beans.  Cook just long enough to warm the last few ingredients.

Serve over brown rice or quinoa, with optional vegan cheese, soy sour cream, and/or avocado.