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!

Deep Dish Pizza

Do you know how to make a food blogger very happy? Buy her a new stove!!!!

As you can see from the rust ring, the old
stove hadn’t been moved in over 60 years.

As I mentioned before, we moved into Michael’s grandparent’s old house and inherited all the old stuff that came with it. Including the original stove from the the 50s. It’s a nice stove and still works, but as Michael put it, “People have landed on the moon since this stove was made.” There was a good sale on end of the year clearance stuff at a local appliance store so we checked it out.

We got a GE 30″ Free-Standing Gas Convection Range, for around 45% off. It was delivered Friday and I was so excited! Finally burners that don’t need a lighter to light! A stove with a digital display and a working timer!

So for our inaugural meal, I decided to make a vegan deep dish pizza. I used a lot Daiya mozzarella, Tofurky Italian sausage, and lot of veggies. I made it in a 9×9 casserole pan since I don’t have a deep dish pan (and couldn’t find my cake pan). I like the square shape, the corner pieces had a crunchier crust.

Deep Dish Pizza
1 red onion, diced
1 cup white mushrooms, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 meatless Italian sausage, diced (I used Tofurky)
1 ball of pizza dough (try my recipe)
1 cup of pizza sauce
1/4 cup cilantro leafs optional
1 cup fresh Spinach
1 cup dairy-free mozzarella cheese ( I used Daiya)
Red pepper flakes, optional

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degree.

Saute the red onions in a little olive oil until they soften.

Add the mushrooms and cook until they start to release their water.

Add the bell peppers. Cook until all the veggies are soft and slightly golden. Set the veggies aside.

Lightly brown the diced Italian sausage, set aside when done.

Lightly oil your baking pan.

Roll the pizza dough the shape of our pan (big enough to have it go at least half way up the sides too) and about 1/8 inch thick.

Place the dough in the pan and work it in gentle so it covers the bottom and the sides.

Spoon half the pizza sauce on to the dough.

Sprinkle on the cilantro, if using (it’s Michael loves it on everything).

Place the spinach in an even layer on top.

Now evenly spread the veggie mixture.

Then the diced sausage.

Pour on the rest of the sauce.

Lastly, sprinkle on the cheese.

Bake for 20 minutes until the sauce starts to bubble.

Turn the oven to broil and bake for 5 more minutes or so, until the cheese starts to get slightly golden (remember that vegan cheese does not get all bubbly, it will just burn).

Let this cool for a few minutes before you cut, it will be so much easier and stay in one piece.

Sprinkle with a little more cilantro and red peppers flakes if desired.

It’s not quite like an authentic Chicago deep dish, but that is probably for the best. As good as they are, they are insanely unhealthy. Michael pretty much inhaled this pizza, didn’t care that it was vegan at all. He was sad when I told him we finished the whole pan!

This was a great inaugural dish for my new stove. Can’t wait to make more delicious vegan food with it!

"Cheesy" Pasta with sliced "Hot Dogs"

I do not believe that majority of children are natural picky eaters. I believe it is parents themselves setting the bad example of not eating their veggies. Why would they want to eat something that their parents do not want to eat? And, of course it will be hard to break them of bad eating habits later. If they are used to eating fatty, oily, high carb foods, they will resist wanting anything else. So it is important to teach kids from an early age the importance of whole foods like fruits and veggies—-and eat them yourself to set the good example.

That being said, there is nothing wrong with making healthy versions of the things all humans are love: carbs, protein, and fat. All animals crave carbs because they fill you up, protein because it sustains you, and fat because it has calories to keep you going. But, we are evolved animals with big brains that we can use to make smart choices about our cravings.

This recipe is healthy version of a kid friendly dish, mac and cheese with sliced hot dogs. It uses soy cheese, vegan butter, and soy hot dogs. I used star stelline, a star shaped pasta, to make it more fun for kids.

This recipe makes 4 servings.

Cheesy Pasta with Hot Dogs Slices
8 oz stelline pasta (I used Barilla)
4 vegan hot dogs (I used Smart Dogs)
2 tbs vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
1 cup vegan cheddar cheese (I used Daiya)
1 tsp dried parsley
Salt and pepper, to taste

Bring a large pot of water to boil.

Add the pasta and cooking according to the directions on the package.

While pasta cooks, heat the hot dogs. You can either microwave or pan fry them according to the directions on the package.

Cut the hot dogs into desired sized slices. Make sure you cut them small enough so your child does not choke. Check out this link for advice.

Once the pasta is cooked, drain and return to the pot.

Add butter and cheese. Mix together well.

Add the hot dog slices and parsley. Mix together well.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Quick and easy lunch that kids (and you) will love!

Lasagna Rolls Up

I kept seeing several versions of lasagna rolls ups on Pintrest so I thought I would give them a try. I like the portion control and that they not as messy as traditional lasagna. I decided to make a very simple version with just vegan cheese, kale, and spinach. I made my own pasta sauce, but jarred is just fine.

This recipe makes 6 servings.

Lasagna Roll Ups
1 box of lasagna noodles (oven-ready is fine)
4 cups pasta sauce  (Try my Mushroom Sauce)
1.5 cup vegan mozzarella cheese, divided into 1 cup and half a cup.  (I used Trader Joe’s Vegan Mozzarella Style Shreds)
1 cup kale (I put it in fresh but sauté would be fine too)
1 cup fresh basil

If you noodles have cooking directions, follow them. If you have no-boil kinda, just bring a large pot of water to boil and cook until al dente. Drain and let cool slightly—but do not leave in the colander too long, they will stick together.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Spread a thin layer of pasta sauce on a baking sheet or baking pan.

On a clean surface, separate the noodles and lie them down flat.

Evenly sprinkle about 2 tablespoons on mozzarella evenly over the upside of each noodle.

Next lay a few kale leaves down in an even thing layer over the noodle.

Next lay a few basil leaves down in an even thing layer on top of the kale.

Starting at one end of the noodle, tightly roll the noodle up. It should hold its rolled shape, if not squish it a bit until it stays.

Repeat the previous 4 steps with all the noodles.

Place the roll ups on the baking sheet. Space a bit apart from each other.

Cover the rolls ups with the remaining sauce.

Sprinkle the remaining half cup of mozzarella over the top.

Bake for 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted and slightly golden.

Michael loved these—though I made his with dairy cheese. I think next time I will load them up more, maybe some crumbled tofu and roasted peppers.

Roti Pizza

You can make mini or personal pizzaz on anything you like—tortillas, english muffins, and even slices of bread. I wanted a crunchy, cheesy lunch the other day, but working in a Southwest cafe made me want anything but a tortilla. Luckily I had roti in the fridge and thought I would give them a try. I discussed my failed homemade roti attempts before so I buy pre-made dough now.

I topped mine with tomato sauce, Daiya cheese and cut up tofurky sausage. You can top with whatever pizza toppings you desire. This makes two small pizza, but can be easily multiplied.



Roti Pizza
2 uncooked roti
1/4 cup pasta sauce
1/4 cup Daiya Mozzarella Style Shreds
1 Tofurky Italian Sausage, cut into slices
Dry parsley and basil

Pre-heat the oven 450 degrees.

Place the roti on a baking sheet, without them touching.

Spread the pasta sauce evenly between the two roti.

Sprinkle the cheese on evenly between the two roti.

Lastly, top each roti with sausage slices.

Bake for 5-10 minuntes, until the cheese is melted. Like I have said before, vegan cheese does not get bubbly, so do not bake it for too long or it will burn.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the dried parsley and basil.

Let it cool a little before you enjoy!

Thin, crispy and light but topped with plenty of cheesy goodness. I have made an Indian pizza before and I think I am going to make a new version on roti soon.

"Cheesy" Rice

Awhile ago I saw something on Pinterest that said mac and cheese comes out creamier if you cook the noodles in milk. I thought why not try it with rice? I added some nutritional yeast and veggies, and ended up with a big pot of creamy and cheesy rice.

This makes 4 servings.

“Cheesy” Rice
1 cup of rice
2 cups soy milk
1 tbs vegan butter
1 clove of garlic, minced
3/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 cup of frozen veggies (I used the standard carrots, corn, and peas mix)
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a large pot, add the rice and soy milk.  Cover and bring to a boil.

Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and cook until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooked. Watch it so it does not burn. Add more liquid if necessary to keep it from burning. Try not to open the lid too much though.

Once the rice is cooked, remove from the heat and add the butter. Mix together well.

Spray a skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and frozen veggies. Cooked until the veggies are heated through.

Add the veggies to the rice and mix together well.

Season with salt and pepper.

This is a basic recipe, feel free to add any veggies, seasonings or anything else you like!

Bac’n Mac and Cheese

Guess what other American classic is actually vegan? McCorkmick’s Bac’n Pieces! It is made from soy. Once again, it is a processed food and needs to be eaten in moderation. But it can provide that “meaty” flavor to your favorite dish on occasion. I decided to add them to my mac and cheese, along with some veggies.

I have posted a recipe for mac and cheese awhile ago that uses Daiya Cheese and nutritional yeast. This recipe only uses nutritional yeast because I was trying to cut down on calories and processed ingredients.

Bacon Bits Mac and Cheese
8 ounces macaroni
1 small onion, minced
2 carrots, finely chopped
3 stalks of celery, finely chopped
1/4 cup vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
1 cup nutritional yeast
2 cups soy milk
1 tsp mustard
1 tbs soy sauce
1 clove of garlic, minced
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Cook the macaroni according to the directions on the package. Drain and set aside.
In a large pot, sauté the chopped onions, carrots, and celery in the 1/4 cup of butter.
Once the veggies are soft, add the nutritional yeast. Mix together until it makes a lumpy paste.
Now add the soy milk, mustard, and garlic. Whisk to get the lumps out.
Add the cooked macaroni and the Bacon Bits.  Mix it all together and season to taste.
Now you have bacon mac and cheese without all that cholesterol!

Soy Cheese Quesadilla

I have some very exciting news: I have a real job! I now work for Greenpeace doing frontline canvassing. I am so happy to work for an organization that shares my same morals and ethics. I love the environment and know that if people just understood what is truly going on in the world, they would want to be more accountable. I am happy with job and my semi-adult life so far. And, hopefully soon I will have my own place so I can start cooking more again.

I thought I would post a recipe for a healthy version of a college staple: quesadillas. Of course I don’t use real queso, I use Daiya Cheddar Shreds. Using soy cheese alone makes it healthier because it cuts out all the cholesterol. Daiya hands down make the best nondairy cheeses (you can read my review in my Mac and Cheese post), but I don’t care what it claims, soy cheese never melt under basic heat like dairy cheese. But, there is a secret to making it melt—steam. 
For some added nutrients (I mean come on, you can’t just eat a cheap pile of cheese and tortillas), I always add some greens into my quesadillas.  Any fresh greens will do—kale, spinach, swiss chard, lettuce & etc. I used some left over mixed salad that from dinner a few nights ago so I had a bit of each. I also whole wheat tortillas. They have more fiber, which is always good. 
This makes one quesadillas, but just multiply to make as any as you like.
Soy Cheese Quesadillas 
2 small whole wheat tortillas
Handful of Greens (spinach, kale, chard, lettuce…)
Red pepper flakes, to taste
2-3 tablespoons of water, just enough to barely cover the bottom of the skillet 
Spray a large skillet with some cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat.

Place one tortilla down into the pan.

Pile the cheese on top of the tortilla. 
Pile the greens on top of the cheese.
Sprinkle on some red pepper flakes.
Top with the other tortilla. 
Pour in the water. I suggest pouring it rounding the tortillas, not directly on, so they do not get too soggy. Add it slowly and stop once it barely cover the whole bottom.
Next cover the skillet, I used a large plate but a lid works fine too. 
Let it steam until the water is all evaporated. You can peak under the cover if you need to, but I just listen until I hear the tortilla start to sizzle.
Remove the cover, and adjust the heat as needed. Let it brown lightly. 
Flip gently and let the other side brown.
Remove from the pan and cut into desired pieces. 
I topped mine with some salsa and hot sauce. It’s easy and pack with protein, vitamins, and fiber. 

Five Layer Dip



*This is repost, since for some unknown reason, the first one got deleted.


I hope you all had a fun Fourth of July!

Once again, so for not posting very often. As I mentioned in my last post, I am moving to California. I am still staying with Michael’s parents and looking for a job (got some good leads so far!). Hopefully soon I will have a job and my own place so I get back to posting more. 

Yesterday Michael’s parents had a little BBQ so I thought I would make something nice for everyone too: five layer dip. I made this for a party before and it was gone within minutes. What’s not to love about layers of spicy beans, creamy guacamole, tangy Tofutti sour cream, fresh salsa and gooey cheese sauce? 


Some of the layers are from recipes I have posted before, so I will spare you the repeat and just post the links. 

Five Layer Dip:

First layer: Spicy Beans
16 can of pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 of a medium onion
1 large bell pepper
1 clove of garlic
Red pepper flakes, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 jalapeño pepper, minced


Drain and rinse the beans. Set aside. 


Chop the onion and peppers into bite-sized pieces. Mince the jalapeño. 



Spray a large skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium heat.


Saute the onions and peppers until slightly golden.






Add the beans, garlics, and red pepper flakes. 












Cook until the beans are heated through. Mash the beans into a paste as it cooks. 








Season with red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, and add the jalapeño. 


Remove from heat and set aside to cool.






Second layer: Basic Guacamole 
Third layer: Tofutti Sour Cream


Fourth layer: Fresh Salsa 
2 large tomatoes, diced
1/4 of a medium onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, minced
Handful of cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste


Dice tomatoes and onions, then add to a large bowl.



Mince the garlic and jalapeños and, add to the bowl. 






Add the cilantro and mix. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 


Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. 


Fifth layer: Cheese Sauce


Assembly:
I suggest doing this in a large see-through (I know I did it in a pink one, it was the biggest one I could find) bowl or dish so you can see all the contrasting layers.


In the bottom of the large bowl, spread an even layer of the Spicy Beans. 



Second, spread on the Basic Guacamole.



Next, cover with as much sour cream as you like. 


Then, put the salsa on top of the sour cream.

Lastly, pour on the cheese sauce. Garnish with some red pepper flakes and cilantro. 



This was big hit! We munched on this while the grill heated up and it was devoured quickly. 


French Onion Soup

I have no idea why, but last week I was sitting in the couch watching TV and all the sudden wanted french onion soup. I have made Alton Brown’s recipe from Good Eats before and loved it. I didn’t feel like looking up his recipe so I did it off the top of my head. The real recipe calls for butter, beef broth, and wine. I don’t eat butter or beef broth, so I used vegan margarine, vegetable broth. I also used beer  because I did not feel like buying a bottle of wine and my boyfriend has plenty of beer in the fridge. The beer did give a different flavor, a little bit more yeasty/salty, but I liked it. Michael did not complain either.

Onions are amazing. They can help clean out your digestive system, have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Some research even suggests they have cancer fighting abilities. Ever why onions make you cry? Wouldn’t you try to blind your enemy if they were trying to cut you open and eat you!

This makes 2-3 servings.

French Onion Soup
2 large white onions, cut into thin half slices
3 tbs of vegan margarine
Pinch of salt
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 bottle of beer (I used Long Board)
1 can of vegetable broth
3 cup of water
Salt and Pepper to better

Cut onions in half, then into thin slices. Mince the garlic.

In a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter.

Add the onions and a pinch of salt.

Stir everything together well and spread into a even layer on the bottom of the pan. Let it sauté for a few minutes, stir and spread out evenly again. Repeat until all the onions are brown and caramelized. This could take awhile, be patient and don’t crank up the heat.

Add the garlic and sauté for a minute or two.

Add the beer and scrap up all stuff from the bottom of the pot.

Add the broth and water, and bring to a boil.

Reduce to a simmer and cover. Let it cook for 30 minutes.

You can get all fancy and put in little ramekins and cover them with a cheese-covered crouton and bake in them in the oven. Or, do what I did and put a little cheese on top and serve them with grilled cheese sandwiches.