Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Quick Veggie Pizza

This was my first time making pizza dough from scratch, and I really liked it! I found a recipe on allrecipes, changed it slightly and doubled it for my family. Even though it uses yeast, the rising time is only thirty minutes, which was fantastic for a weeknight meal. The only flour my recipe uses is all purpose, and I thought the crust came out great. The dough was incredibly soft to work with and a cinch to roll out. The girls really wanted to see if I could toss the dough, so I did, and to my amazement, it stretched out amazingly. The dough stayed uniformly round when I rolled it, but changed into interesting shapes when I tossed it three or four times. So, that was a fun twist. Some shapes fit on my pizza pan, and some had to be baked on a large cookie sheet. I thought by doubling the dough recipe that I'd have just enough for five mini pizzas, but instead, I ended up with five full-size pizzas, yum! It was the tossing that did it. After the short rise time, the dough already had a sourdough-y fragrance, and I found that very appealing. One thing I will do differently next time is to not make all the crusts ahead of time: even with plenty of flour in between layers of uncooked crusts, they all stuck together, and I had to re-roll and start over. But, it was so quick, it wasn't that big of a deal. There is sugar in this recipe, and some sort of sweetener in all the recipes I searched, so I just decided to put it in. I think I'll give it a try without the sweetener next time, and see if there's a marked difference. With the simplicity of ingredients and the quickness of the meal, I can definitely see me making homemade pizza frequently in our home!

A close-up of Quick Veggie Pizza

What my dough looked like after rolling.

How big it got after a few tosses!

Its fun, quirky shape straight from the oven! What was fun for the Blessings, is that everyone's pizza had a unique shape.

Quick Veggie Pizza



2 pkgs. or 1 and 1/2 Tbs. of active dry yeast
2 cups of warm water
4 cups of flour
1 and 1/2 Tbs. olive oil
2 tsp. salt
1 and 1/2 Tbs. vegan or raw sugar

Your Favorite Veggie Toppings:

We used:
Organic pizza sauce
Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet cheese, cheddar style, finely shredded
Tomatoes, halved and sliced
Can of black olives, sliced in thirds
Dino kale, stripped from stems and torn or coarsely chopped
Mushrooms, sliced


In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Let rest for ten minutes. Combine the remaining crust ingredients in a large bowl, along with the yeast mixture, and mix well. Cover bowl with a damp towel, and let rise for 30 minutes. Punch dough down and divide into five sections. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a floured surface, roll out one section of dough to about the size of a plate. Pick up and gently toss with your hands, until it's at least one and a half times its original size. Put on your baking sheet or pizza pan, and load with toppings. Bake for 20 minutes. While baking, make your next pizza. (I did not try to bake more than one pizza at a time because I thought they may stay undercooked, and I wanted this first time to be a success. However, I may do that the next time I make these to test my theory.) Remove from oven and let rest for five minutes before slicing. So good and easy! Feeds five hungry vegans, with leftovers for lunch the next day!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Simple Garlic Bread

This is such a simple recipe, but I am still marking it down because, as I've said before, I'm making sure I've got down some family favorite recipes for my children to have. And, this, as simple as it is, is definitely one of them. The main thing I remember about garlic bread in our home when I was growing up, is it was a necessity every time we had spaghetti for dinner. Now, my mom didn't make spaghetti all the time. She made it a few times a year, and when she did, it was a huge production: the homemade sauce bubbling on the stove for hours, me picking all of the mushrooms out and eating them to the point that she learned to add way more than needed, ah, the memories. Well, if my grandma was involved, and there was a huge family dinner with all the relatives, she did the garlic bread. Both she and my mom had the same recipe. And, when she cut the bread, and if I was near her (and I made sure I was), she always seemed to cut a couple of pieces that were just too thin for the table. And, then she would hand me one and take the other, shrug her shoulders, and explain that we had to eat them, they were just too thin. So, more than a recipe, which is delicious by the way, this garlic bread represents tradition for me, in more ways than one.

Simple Garlic Bread in the bowl, free from "too thin" ones.

Out of the oven, resting before being sliced

Simple Garlic Bread


1/2 cup vegan margarine
6 - 8 garlic cloves, minced
1 loaf of extra sour French bread (I use Colombo)


Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Cut the loaf in half width-wise, then each half length-wise. The easiest way I do this is to stand each cut half on end on the cutting board and slice from the end down. Lay the four pieces on a cookie sheet, cut side up. Melt margarine in a small pot over medium heat. When melted, add the minced garlic, and cook for about one minute, until the garlic releases its fragrance. Take a basting brush and paint the margarine and garlic on the bread. If there is any garlic left in the pot, be sure to get those too! Bake for eight to ten minutes, until the edges of the bread begin to brown. Remove from oven and let cool for about five minutes before cutting into individual slices. If you cut the bread too soon, it will tear jaggedly. Share a too-thin piece with someone you love. Feeds five hungry vegans. Double or triple if the gathering is large.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Traditional Nachos

So, we finally had another nacho night. It's been too long since the last one. For those new to my nacho experiences, I make a big platter of nachos, put it on the ottoman in the living room, and we all sit on the floor and watch a movie while munching. It's fun, it's messy, and it tastes good! This time we watched an episode of NCIS off of one of SR's DVDs, her fave show. I like to make variations of nachos, but I stuck to the traditional kind for this batch. It was gobbled up very quickly.

Traditional Nachos

Big bag of corn tortilla chips
1 - 29 oz. can of vegetarian refried beans (or homemade)
1 pkg. of Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet cheese, cheddar style, finely shredded
Pickled jalapeno slices
1 15 oz. can of black olives, sliced in thirds
2 fresh tomatoes, diced
3 green onions, sliced
Vegan sour cream


Preheat the top broiler, making sure the rack is in the second position from the top. Heat up the refried beans in a small pot. In a large platter, cover the bottom with a few big handfuls of chips. Spread the beans over the chips, and sprinkle the cheese on top of the beans. Broil for three to five minutes, until the cheese melts. Bring out of the oven, and add the rest of the ingredients, amount to your liking. Surround the inside of the platter with chips, in a ring, and a few in the center as garnish. Tote along a second bowl of chips, and dig in! The ones on the bottom become deliciously soaked with the full flavor of the nachos, and are fun to eat, despite them being firm-challenged. Feeds five hungry, grabby, selfish vegans.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Seitan Steak and Asparagus Roll-ups with Hollandaise Sauce

I saw a version of this recipe in a carni (or omni) cookbook, and I thought, "I could do this." The original called for thinly sliced top round sandwich steaks, pounded, so I started to think how I could come up with a seitan version. It also called for Swiss cheese, but I did not add any vegan cheese, and it tasted great. I've been experimenting with my own seitan recipes, and working them until I like the texture and flavor, and when I like one enough, I'll present it to you. This was a tad fancier than my family's used to, but a little fanciness does them good! With the asparagus tucked in the roll, and with the Hollandaise sauce drizzled on top, I loved this dish. I hope you do too. This recipe makes eight steaks, but I only used five for my family; I sliced up the remaining three for a stir-fry later. You can use any leftover sauce poured over steamed veggies the next night!

A Seitan Steak and Asparagus Roll-up with Hollandaise sauce, served with a helping of cous cous. The picture unfortunately came out a tad blurry.

When you shape the steaks, I suggest doing it directly on the foil, so they don't stick to the cutting board. Here are all the wrapped steaks in the pot, waiting to be steamed. See how I've kept them flat and rectangular.

Here are the Roll-ups on a platter, with their strings still on, just waiting to be served!

Seitan Steak and Asparagus Roll-ups with Hollandaise Sauce

Seitan Steaks:

1 cup slow-cooked pinto beans
2 cups vegetable broth
1 Tbs. garlic salt
1/2 cup steak sauce - The 365 organic brand at Whole Foods is vegan and free of corn syrup
1 Tbs. vegan Worchestire sauce
1/4 tsp. liquid smoke
1 tsp. pepper
1 Tbs. dried oregano
3 cups gluten flour

3 asparagus spears per roll-up, bottoms trimmed
String for tying
Water for steaming and baking

Hollandaise Sauce:

6 Tbs. vegan margarine
4 Tbs. flour
2 cups original soy milk
1/2 tsp. turmeric
4 Tbs. nutritional yeast flakes
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. dry mustard
1/4 tsp. salt
1/16 tsp. pepper

Directions for the Roll-ups: Put all the ingredients, except the gluten flour, in a blender, and process until mostly smooth. I have an ordinary blender, and it works just fine in mine. In a large bowl, add the blended ingredients and the gluten flour, and mix with a spoon thoroughly. Knead for a couple of minutes, to make sure it is blended well. Divide the dough into eight parts. On a large section of aluminum foil, pat out one of the dough parts into a rectangular shape the best you can on one edge of the foil. You want it approximately eight inches in length and the width of your hand. (You will be rolling this around the asparagus, so you don't want it so thin, it will break apart, but you want it long enough, so that the ends reach around.) Once you have your shape, flip the foil and steak over one time, fold down the top and bottom edges, and continue to flip the steak over until it reaches the other edge. You don't want to roll it, you want to keep it flat. Hopefully, you'll have about three flips total. Do the same with the other steaks. Place in a large pot with a steamer basket and a couple of inches of water, and steam over medium heat for forty-five minutes. Take the wrapped steaks out of the pot. You can put in the fridge those you won't be using in this dish; this recipe is using five steaks. Quickly unwrap the steaks and let them cool slightly while you prepare the asparagus. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bring a medium pot of water to boil. Carefully drop in the asparagus spears and blanch for three minutes. Drain the spears and rinse under cold water. Put each steak over a long piece of string length wise. Place three spears across the center of each steak, so it forms a "t" and fold the ends over, so they touch. Holding the steak edges in place, tie the string securely in a bow. I had GR help me pinch the ends together in place while I tied the string. I found I needed that little extra help. Place the roll-ups in a baking pan, and pour 2/3 cup of water in the bottom of the pan. Bake for 20 minutes. Pull the pan out, flip the roll-ups over, add another 2/3 cup of water, and bake for another 20 minutes.

Directions for the Hollandaise Sauce: During the last ten minutes of baking, start the sauce. In a medium pot, melt the margarine over medium heat. Whisk in the flour until there is a sort of paste. Add the soy milk slowly and continue to whisk, so there are no lumps. Add the remaining ingredients, and continue whisking until the sauce thickens. This only takes a few minutes. If you find it's cooking too fast, turn the heat down to medium low. Once it's thickened, set aside for the roll-ups.

Plate each roll-up, cutting away the string. Drizzle the desired amount of sauce over each roll-up. Round out the dish by serving a healthy grain. A nice meal. Feeds five hungry vegans.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Warm Lentils with Carmelized Onions and Red Bell Peppers over Greens with a Tangy Mustard Dressing

This was another one of those meals that came together because of a lack of groceries in the house. I had lentils, an onion, and some lettuce and tomato, and began to figure out a way to make a potentially blah meal great instead! The more I started to put things together, the more ingredients I thought to add, until I came up with this relatively simple dish with a super fancy title. Enjoy!

Warm Lentils with Caramelized Onions and Red Bell Peppers over Greens with a Tangy Mustard Dressing


Lentil Dish:

1 lb. lentils, picked free of grit
Water to cover
1 Tbs. garlic powder
Salt and Pepper to taste

1 Tbs. olive oil
1 onion, halved and halved again lengthwise, then sliced into strips
1/2 cup marinated red bell peppers (I used Mezzetta Deli-Sliced Roasted Sweet Bell Pepper Strips)
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. dried oregano
Salt and Pepper to taste

1 head of Romaine lettuce, chopped
2 tomatoes, cut into wedges


4 cloves of garlic, minced
3/4 cup of olive oil
1/3 cup of white vinegar
1 Tbs. of yellow mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. dried oregano

Directions: In a large pot of water, bring lentils to a boil. Turn down the heat to medium and cook for 40 minutes, or until tender. Keep water level no more than a half inch above the lentils, adding water as needed. Add the garlic powder, salt and pepper, and cook another five minutes. While the lentils are cooking, heat the olive oil in a medium pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for at least twenty minutes, stirring occasionally, until they start to brown or caramelize. Add the pepper slices and garlic powder, oregano and salt and pepper and cook for another three to five minutes, until flavors are blended. Create a bed of lettuce with the tomato wedges on plates. Spoon a serving of lentils over each bed of greens and top with some of the onions and peppers. Combine all the salad dressing ingredients into a jar with a lid, and shake thoroughly. Drizzle the desired amount of dressing over the top of each serving. So good. Feeds five hungry vegans.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

100th Post Giveaway Winner!

Thanks to everyone who entered and for all the nice comments you made on my last post.

This morning I went to, entered in my numbers and came up with Commenter #2! Of course, this was the one number that was entered in three times! Will the real #2 please stand up?

This forced me to go back to old-fashioned counting, which as you know, counting up to two is very challenging, and it led me to Jenn. Congratulations, Jenn! Now, remember the rules: read the book, while munching on the snacks, while my picture is close by, so we can all be together! All I need is your mailing info, and we're good to go - I'll mail it out sometime this week.

Thanks also to those who answered the Blessings Question of the Day! I picked the hippopotamus because I wouldn't want to deal with a hairy horn or pointy tusks! Maybe I could outrun the hippo and avoid those teeth! Today's question by JK is: Who is your favorite superhero? Mine is Superman, of course!

Thanks, again!