TVP Pulled Pork Sandwiches

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What do you when your whole family wants pulled pork sandwiches and you’re vegan? Pull out for textured vegetable protein (TVP) and veganaise! A lovely dinner to welcome the start of summer, which is right around the corner.

This recipe is super easy. Can be pulled together in minutes—way easier than making pulled pork! But it tastes just as good as if it had been cooked hours and hours.

This recipes makes 4 sandwiches.

TVP Pulled Pork Sandwiches
 1 cup Textured Vegetable Protein
 7/8 cup of boiling water
 1 medium onion, dicedIMG_3995
 1/2 cup BBQ sauce
1 tbs flax oil
1 tsp Braggs Liquid Aminos
 2 cups shredded cabbage 
(or a bag of coleslaw vegetables)
 1/2 cup Veganaise
 1 tsp Dijon mustard
 1 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
 Squeeze of lemon juice
 Salt and pepper, to taste
Additional BBQ, to taste
4 hamburger buns or rolls

In a large bowl, add the TVP and pour the boiling water. Add the 1/4 cup BBQ, flax oil, and liquid amigos. Stir together well.  Set aside for 15 minutes

In another large bowl, mix together all the remaining ingredients—except the BBQ and bun— to make the coleslaw. Cover and place in the fridge to chill.

Once the TVP is rehydrated, heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and TVP mixture to the skillet. Cook until the onions are translucent and the liquid is mostly gone.

Add additional BBQ to the TVP if you like for more flavor.

Time to assemble! Place a big scoop of the TVP mixture on the bottom bun, top with a big scoop of your chilled coleslaw and top with the rest of the bun.

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Sweet, tangy, and satisfying! No reason you have to feel left out this summer at a BBQ.

Broccoli and Parsnip Risotto

I don’t really have a cute story to go with this recipe. I had orzo pasta, broccoli, and parsnips. I thought a creamy pasta dish with some crisp vegetables would be nice for lunch. Yeah…that’s about it.

One ladle at a time…

I love risotto, but hate that it’s usually loaded with a ton of cheese, cream, and butter. Too rich and heavy. I like creamy without all that junk. My recipe only has a bit of vegan cheese and some olive oil–just it’s still rich and creamy. Also, I don’t love that it takes an hour to make well. And you can’t rush it, just be patience.

“This is taking forever, I’m hungry!”

Jack didn’t like that either, he had to go up in a back carry to keep him happy. However, he was more than happy to eat it!

Broccoli and Parsnip Risotto 
6 cups vegetable broth (or you can do like I did, 5 cups water with 1 cup of pureed vegetable baby food)
2 tbs olive oil, divided
1/2 large onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 large parsnips, chopped
1 head of broccoli, chopped
1 cup orzo
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 cup vegan mozzarella cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a large pot, bring the vegetable to a simmer over medium-low heat.

In a skillet over medium-high heat, heat one tablespoon of olive oil. Add the chopped onion and cook until translucent.

Add the parsnips and cook until tender.

Add the garlic and broccoli,  took until the broccoli is tender.

Heat the remaining olive oil in a another large skillet over medium heat.

Add the orzo and brown the pasta lightly. Stir continuously to prevent burning. It’s okay if some pieces are darker than others.

Once orzo is all lightly browned, reduce heat to medium-low. Then add one ladle of hot broth to the pot, stir continuously until it is all absorbed.

Repeat adding one ladle of broth at a time and stirring until it is all absorbed until the pasta is tender and the broth no longer absorbs easily. This will take around an hour to complete. Don’t rush it by turning up the heat or adding more than one ladleful.

Before you add your last ladle or so, add the broccoli and parsnips to the skillet.

Once the pasta is tender, remove from the heat and stir in the nutritional yeast.

Top with the mozzarella and enjoy!

Creamy, filling, and loaded with veggies. Your patience has been rewarded!

Cranberry Brussels Sprouts

This morning my husband accidentally woke the baby up early. And guess who had to get up with him? Anyways, I got to watch my favorite cooking show of all time, Good Eats. And the episode featured my favorite vegetable, Brussels Sprouts. I’ve seen the episode before, but kind of ignored it since I loved my sprout cut in half and pan fried. But today I paid attention and saw him make the most delicious looking dish ever. Shredded Brussels sprouts with dried cranberries and pecans. I had all those ingredients in my fridge and couldn’t decide what to make, this recipe was just what I needed! I made it vegan and added a few ingredients too. This dish would make a fantastic healthy side dish for the Thanksgiving!

Cranberry Brussels Sprouts
1 pound Brussels Sprouts
3 ounce raw pecans, chopped
1 tbs vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
4 ounces dried cranberries
1/2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
Salt and pepper to taste

Rinse the brussel sprouts and remove any brown leafs. Cut off the tip of the steam. Cut the brussel sprouts into shreds (or use a food processor like Alton did).

In a skillet over medium-high heat, lightly toast the chopped pecans. It will only take a minute or two. The color won’t change much but you will be able to smell the aroma. Remove from the pan and set aside.

In the same skillet, add the butter and brussels sprout shreds. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, until the sprouts soften.

Next add the cranberries and cook for one minute longer.

Transfer to a serving bowl. Add the olive oil and bread crumbs. Mix well.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Now dig into this delicious dish! Michael and I devoured the bowl. I even hoped Jack wouldn’t eat his  portion (I gave him just the sprouts, never give a baby nuts as they are a choking risk).  But he devoured his too! I will need to make this again soon, it was just so good!

Samosa Casserole with Cilantro Gravy

This recipe is one of the freezer meals I made a few weeks ago. I wanted something filling and flavorful to enjoy after a long, hard day. I thought of freezing one of my Samosa Pizzas, but I didn’t quite know how to store that. Then I though a casserole would be nice, very hearty from all the potatoes and it would freeze very well. And I had just bought a big bag of sweet potatoes, too.  So I essentially made a bigger batch of the potato filling from my pizza recipe, but used sweet potatoes instead. As for the gravy, I wanted something more the usual cilantro chutney. Something creamier, to really stand up to the sweet potatoes.Like how well hash browns go with saw-mill gravy. So I made up a cilantro version.

I made the casserole in disposable pan and covered it in foil. The gravy I made the day of, but you could freezer it as well. Just put it in a freezer bag.

This recipe makes one 8 X 10 pan, and 1 cup of gravy.
Samosa Casserole with Cilantro Gravy
Filling

3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 tbs vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp coriander powder
2 tsp mango powder
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tbs ginger, peeled and minced

1 medium onion, diced
1/2 tsp garam masala

2 cups frozen peas and carrots (or any other vegetable mixture you like)
Dough 
2 cups baking mix (I used Bisquick)
2/3 cup water
2 tbs tamarind chutney
Gravy 
1 bunch of cilantro
1 cup water
3 tbs olive oil
1/4 tsp fennel seeds
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp garlic salt
2 tbs flour

Add the peeled sweet potatoes to a pot of cold water. Bring to a boil. Cook until they are soft.

While the potatoes boil, in a small pot add the vegan butter and melt over medium heat.

Add the cumin seeds, fennel seeds, coriander powder, and mango powder. Cook for 1 minute, until fragrant.

Add the garlic, ginger, and onions. Cook until the onions soften a little and it’s very fragrant.

Turn off heat and set aside.

Once the potatoes are soft, drain well and return to the pot.

Add the frozen peas and carrots, and the spice/oil mixture. Mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Then set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the baking mix, water, and tamarind chutney. It should make a wet dough, like for dumplings. Set aside.

Spray a casserole pan with cooking spray.

Spread the potato filling evenly.

Tear off dumpling-size pieces of the dough and evenly distribute over the filling.

Cover with foil.

To make the gravy,  blend the cilantro and water in a blender or food processor until smooth. Set aside.

add the oil to small pot over medium heat.

Once the oil is heated, add the fennel, cumin seeds, chili powder, and garlic salt. Cook for 1 minute, until fragrant.

Add the flour and quickly whisk it into the oil. Cook for 1 minute.

Add the pureed cilantro and whisk in quickly.

Cook for 3-5 minutes, until it begins to thicken slightly.

Remove from the heat and pour into another container to cool

Now you can let it cool, then pop it in the freezer.  Or you can bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes. To bake after being frozen, 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes. To thaw the gravy, place it in warm water and heat in a pot on the stove once it’s liquid again. You may need to add a bit more water on the stove to keep it from thickening too much.

I popped this in the oven after a long road trip to LA and back this weekend. It was totally what my whole family needed. Nutritious, tasty, and filling, Even the baby loved it. I hope your family loves it too!

Cold Soba Noodle Salad

I have no idea if I got this recipe from somewhere. Maybe I made it up! I don’t recall, but it’s similar to many other Asian noodle salads. But I’ve made it for years. It’s light but satisfying. Especially on a hot summer day (though it’s September and I really over this hot weather now). Very simple to make and tastes better the longer it sits, so make a big batch for leftovers.

Soba noodles are made from buckwheat, a grain that looks like a seed. It’s also gluten free so soba is great alternative to for those with a gluten allergy. Buckwheat is high in fiber and manganese, and is overall a very nutritious food. Soba noodles can be served cold like in this recipe, or hot like in a soup. I’ve tried them both ways, but I prefer cold.

This recipe makes 4 servings.

Cold Soba Noodle Salad
1 bag (12.8 oz) of Soba noodles
1/4 cup sesame oil
3 tbs soy sauce
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tsp ginger, minced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 large cucumber, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
Other options:
1 large carrot, shredded
1 cup steam shelled edamame
1 block of extra firm tofu, drained and cubed
1 tbs toasted nori

Cook the soba noodles according the directions on the package. When done, drain well and rinse with cold water immediately. Set aside.

In a small bowl, mixed together the oil, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger and pepper flakes to make the dressing. Set aside.

Chop your veggies and add to a large bowl.

Add the soba noodles to the veggie bowl.

Add the dressing and mix together well.

Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Top with some toasted nori and enjoy!

My favorite way to make this is adding all the optional ingredients, but that will have to wait until Jack’s older. I left my basic because I was sharing with my little son. We have started to introduce solids through baby-led weaning. I didn’t think he was quite ready for tofu or edamame yet.

Baby approved!

Curry Vegetable Quinoa


One day I wanted fried rice, but I had no rice. But I had quinoa though. Then I realized I had no soy sauce. But I had a ton of Indian spices. So I looked up what I could make and came across a recipe from Manjula’s Kitchen called Quinoa Vegetable Pilaf. It looked good so I decided to make my own version.

Curry Vegetable Quinoa
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
Dash of salt
1 tbs coconut oil
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 piece of ginger, pealed and minced
1 small white onion
Kernels from 2 ears of corn 
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 small head of broccoli, chopped into bite-sized pieces 
3/4 cup tomato juice
1 jalapeno, minced
Dash of asafetida
Salt and pepper, to taste
Cilnatro

In a small pot, add the quinoa, water, and salt. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Cook for about 15 minutes, until the water is absorbed. 

While that cooks, heat the coconut oil in large skillet over medium heat. 

Add the cumin seeds, fennel seeds, curry powder, and chili powder. Cook for a minute, just until it becomes fragrant. 

Add the ginger and onions. Cook until the onions are soft. 

Add the corn kernels, bell pepper, and broccoli. Cook until the veggies are tender. 

Once the quinoa is done, fluffy gently with a fork and let it sit for a minute. 

Add the quinoa to the skillet. 

Add the tomato juice, jalapeno, and asafetida. Stir well.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish with cilantro.

A flavorful Indian version of fried rice, with plenty of protein from the quinoa. No need for meat or egg!And don’t be afraid to make a big batch of this, the flavors get even better the longer it sits.

Lentils With Toasted Walnuts

The other day Jack was super clingy and only wanted to sleep on me. I didn’t have anything better to do so I let him. However, as I reached for the remote, I dropped it out of my reach. It changed to the Cooking Channel with French Food At Home. I am not a big fan of this show because she makes stuff that is really not vegan friendly, but I was not about to reach for the remote and wake Jack up. But just my luck she was making vegetarian dishes, and some really good looking ones too!

The minute she said lentils with walnuts, I knew what I was making for dinner. I followed the basics of her recipe, but changed a few things. I left out the goat cheese obviously. I did not use walnut oil because I didn’t have any on hand. I also used brown lentils, not the french ones she calls for because once again, I did not have any on hand. I also added celery for some added green color.

Lentils With Toasted Walnuts
1/4 cup raw unsalted walnuts
1 cup brown lentils
1 and 1/2 cup water
1 tsp Herb de Provence
2 tbs olive oil
1/2 white onion, diced
3 stalks of celery, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat the oven to 350.

Spread the walnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes in the oven. They will be slightly brown and start giving off that nutty smell when ready. Remove from the oven and set aside.

In a saucepan over medium heat, add the lentils, water, and Herb de Provence. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer. Cook until the lentils are soft and the water is all absorbed.

While that cooks, heat the oil olive in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and celery, cook until soft.

Add the garlic and cook for just a minute.

Add the vinegar and mix together well. Add more oil or vinegar as needed to make a very light and runny dressing (I needed a splash of each).

Once the lentils are cooked, turn off the heat. Pour the vinegar dressing over the lentils. Add the walnuts and toss together well.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish with some more raw walnuts and a few sprigs of thyme if you have it.

We had this a big piece of bread and added a few shakes of red pepper flakes. It’s very rich and filling, a lovely hearty dinner!

Pilothouse and The Argonaut Cafe

A few weekends ago, Michael and I went on our babymoon in California’s Gold Country. Check out my pregnancy blog for a full review of the trip and money saving travel tips. We had both been dying for a Gold Country trip for over a year now, so this was the perfect way for us to have some quality time before the baby comes. We ate at two restaurants that really impressed me, so I thought I would share.

Old Town Sacramento at night.

We went on our babymoon starting the Saturday of Presidents’ Day weekend, so we decided to save our fancy Valentine’s Day dinner for that night. We both wanted a nice dinner in Old Town Sacramento, so I did some online research and found Pilothouse.

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The restaurant is located inside the Delta King Hotel, a retired riverboat docked along the Sacramento River. I made reservations online, but we probably did not need them. We came later in the evening so we missed the rush, and the hostess told me that the day after Valentines Day is never that busy. She suggested that in the future we always make a reservation just in case.

The staff was very friendly, though our specific waiter was kinda slow (Michael’s beer and our bread came about 15 minutes later). The atmosphere was very nice, the whole dinning room restored to it’s 1930’s charm. And the view of the river all lit up at night was lovely.

I ordered the beet salad (Michael just ate the cheese for me). It was sooo good. The beets were perfectly cooked and very juicy.

For my entree, I had to order the only vegan thing on the menu, Grilled Vegetable Tagine. I was a little annoyed at first there was only one choice, but it was tasted good so I have no complaints. Lovely crisp veggies served over rice, seasoned with a sweet but savory spice blend. I am sorry I don’t have a photo of my entree, I know I took one and somehow it vanished off my phone….

Michael ordered the Saturday Night Steak Dinner Special—nothing besides his starter salad was vegan. He always wants steak for Valentines Day. I can’t complain because I didn’t have to cook it for once. He loved his organic and antibiotic free prime rib. And was in heaven with his buttery mashed potatoes. Meh, I will stick to my still delicious healthier food 🙂

Aren’t we cute all dressed up?

This place is expensive, but it was a lovely treat. We got to dress up and snuggle up next to each other. It would have been even better if I could have sampled the wine selection…..

On Monday while visiting the Marshall Gold Discovery Park, we had a lunch at this adorable little cafe across the street from the Visitor’s Center. The Argonaut Cafe is an organic, farm-to-fork style restaurant. It’s a tiny little building, and even at 2:30 PM when we entered, it was pretty busy.

The cafe is decorated like an old Gold Rush era store, mostly wood and metal. There are a lot of picnic tables out back with a great view of the American River.

The menu is basic cafe foods, like soups, sandwiches, salad, and a few desserts. I ordered the Fresh Veggie Sandwich (without the cheese) on Sourdough and Michael got the Organic Smoked Turkey on Sourdough. My sandwich was heavenly. Fresh, crispy veggies with a creamy hummus. And I love buttery California avocados. I was so happy to find fresh organic food in such a small town at reasonable price (both sandwiches were $8 each).  The soup of the day was vegan chili, but I didn’t want to be too full and set off my acid reflux. It looked really good though, maybe next time.

We want to do a bigger Gold Country trip when Jack is old enough and I totally plan on coming to both these restaurants again. Though, Jack might stay the night with his Auntie who lives nearby when we go back to Pilothouse so momma can enjoy some wine in peace.

And see, it’s not that hard to go on a vacation and eat vegan. Just do some research and be prepared that your food will be delicious, just not a mound of buttery mashed potatoes. Or who knows, maybe you will luck out and find an awesome organic cafe!

Coconut Noodle Soup

This is one of my simple go-to recipes when I want something easy and satisfying. My mom is coming to to help me before and after the baby comes, and I am so asking her to make me this for me. (and make freezer meals of this too). This soup is a mix between a milder Thai Tom Kha Kai and a simpler Japanese Ramen soup.

This recipe serves 4 entree sized portions.

Coconut  Noodle Soup
4 servings of ramen or soba noodles, cooked according to directions and set aside
Coconut oil
1 tbs minced ginger
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 of a white onion, chopped
1 medium carrot or 8 baby carrots, chopped
1 yellow bell peppers, chopped
1 block of firm tofu, drained and cut into bit-sized cubes
4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
The juice of one lime
1-2 tbs soy sauce, depending on taste
1 can (12 oz) coconut milk
2 stalks lemongrass
1/4 tbs yellow Thai curry paste
Basil, cilantro, or chili oil for garnish

Heat a large pot over medium heat and add a little bit of the coconut oil.

Add the ginger, garlic, and onions. Saute for 2 minutes.

Add carrots, bell peppers, and tofu. Saute until the carrots are soft.

Add the vegetable broth, lime juice, and soy sauce. Bring to a boil.

Reduce to a low simmer. Add the coconut milk, lemon grass stalks and Thai curry paste. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Turn off the heat and add the cooked noodles.

Serve with a garnish of basil, cilantro, chili oil, or any combination of those. I normally do chili sauce and basil, but this time I left it plain.

As this cool, the noodles will absorb some of the broth and make the dish creamier. If you want it more broth, just add more water of vegetable broth during cooking.

Samosa Pizza

I have declared my love for pizza on here before. But I have never professed my loved for samosas. Delicious little fried pastries filled with veggies and spices then dipped in flavorful chutneys. What’s not to love? I am not a big fan of fried foods, but these are something special. I always order them at Indian restaurants and am heartbroken when I have share. So why would I not combine two of my culinary favorites?

This recipe makes 1 pizza.

Samosa Pizza

2 russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 tsb vegan butter, divided
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp coriander powder
1/4 tsp garam masala
1 tsp mango powder
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 ball of pizza dough, homemade or store bought is fine (try my recipe)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 tbs ginger, peeled and minced
4 tbs tamarind chutney (if you don’t happen to have a mother-in-law who makes some, it’s pretty easy to find in stores nowadays
Cilantro chutney (try my recipe)

Fill a large pot with cold water and add the potatoes.

Cover and bring to boil. Cook until the potatoes are soft enough for a fork to be easily inserted.

While that boils, in large skillet melt a little butter.

Add the chopped carrots. Cook until they begin to soften.

Add the frozen peas. Season with a little salt and pepper. Cook until heated through, then set aside.

When the potatoes are soft, drain well and set aside for the sec.

Return pot the potatoes boiled in the stove over medium heat, add the remaining butter and let it melt.

Add the cumin seeds and fennel seeds. Toast them for one minute.

Turn off the heat.

Add the potatoes back in and mash/mix in with the butter. Don’t mash until totally smooth, leave some chunks.

Mix in the coriander powder, garam masala, and mango powder.

Stir in the peas and carrots.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

Roll out your pizza dough into your desired shaped. Place it in a pizza pan.

Pre-bake the pizza crust into the oven 7-10 minutes, just until they are lightly golden.

Remove the crust from the oven and let it cool a bit.

Spread on the tamarind sauce.

Now glob on potato mixture. Spread it in an even, thick layer.

Next sprinkle on the minced ginger and garlic.

Bake for another 5-7 minutes, until the crust is golden.

Top with the cilantro chutney, and some extra cilantro if desired.

This was soooo good. We devoured the whole pizza pretty quickly. I just realized I need to make this for my soon-to-be son one day because it incorporates two of his heritages–Indian and Italian.