Sunday, January 29, 2012

Mushroom Gravy, G's Birthday and a Contest

G's birthday was a few days ago, and once again, I made it through that sketchy period, where for two weeks I'm too old for him.  Whew!  As usual, he asked for a very simple birthday dinner - no fuss, no muss.  Everything he requested, I made for him.  I wasn't thinking in terms of posting any recipes, so I didn't take a clear shot of the gravy.  I wish I had taken a picture of it in a ladle or in a gravy boat, but eh, I didn't think about it.  But, looking at the roasted potatoes, you kind of get the idea.  It's an easy, yummy gravy, chock full of mushrooms, really!

G's birthday dinner (my) plate: Roasted potatoes with Mushroom Gravy, Boca Chik patties, green, purple and orange cauliflower.  (He asked for a vegetable medley, and I thought this looked colorful.)  On G's plate, his gravy was on his patties, too.  The boy wanted gravy!  The lighting isn't too great in this picture to show off everything as good as it was.

G's birthday lunch was at our usual go-to place for either his or my birthday.  Queen Sheba's has an all-you-can-eat vegan buffet during the week, so it's really cost-effective with five hungry mouths.  Since he works from home on Friday's, we took his lunch a day early.  Their information is: 1704 Broadway, Sacramento, ph: 916-446-1223, .

G's birthday cake.  He told me he wanted it in Captain America colors, JK's favorite superhero of the minute, so it's a white cake with cherry and blueberry filling.  This was a hit with everyone, even my mom, who isn't crazy about sweets.

Slice of same cake.  The true color of the cake is actually reflected in the picture of the whole cake.  Again, the lighting wasn't the greatest on my table.

Also, someone nominated me to be one of the top 25 veggie mom bloggers at Circle of Moms.  I'm not one normally for self-promotion, and I'm a bit shy, but G goaded me on to accept this.  So, if you want to vote for me, you can do so once a day until February 14th.  I don't have Facebook or Twitter or MySpace to my advantage, just you, my wonderful, kind, insightful readers.  This blog is my only venture into the cyber world beyond my e-mail.  Thank you in advance!  And thank you to whomever nominated me.  :-)

Mushroom Gravy


1 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 red onion, diced small
8 to 10 button mushrooms, chopped small
6 Tbs. vegan margarine
4 Tbs. flour
3 cups of vegetable broth
2 Tbs. soy sauce
5 to 7 drops of liquid smoke
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper


In a medium pot, heat oil on medium heat.  When hot, add the onion and cook for ten minutes.  Add the mushrooms and cook for five minutes more, stirring frequently.  Move the onions and mushrooms to one side of the pan, and add the margarine on the other side.  Let it melt.  Add the flour to the margarine, and either whisk the two together or use a fork to blend them into a kind of paste.  Add the broth to the paste while continue to whisk.  It's okay if some of the onions and mushrooms sneak on over and blend in.  When all the broth is added, the whole pot of ingredients will be mixed together.  Add the remaining ingredients, and continue to stir gently with whisk until gravy comes to a boil.  It will thicken very rapidly at this point.  If it's too thick, you can add a touch more broth.  Serve hot over roasted potatoes, or anything else you like.  If the leftover gravy congeals overnight in the refrigerator, simply warm up with a little extra water, and it's good as new.  Feeds five hungry vegans and a couple of guests.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Royal Platter (with soy)

When my girls were much littler, I loved to make snacks for them on divided plates that were full of a variety of goodies. (And, I still do!)  What I quickly found out was that G appreciated these snacks as much as they did.  So, one night I was struck by a unique idea for dinner: to have a large platter of a variety of foods requiring no utensils, save for a couple of toothpicks for spearing.  Dipping sauces and plenty of napkins were always nearby.  Because at that time we only had daughters, I named these dinners Princess Platters.  And, they were a huge hit with all of us.  The combination of foods were endless.  Just like when we have nachos family-style, I put the platter on a tray or ottoman, and we would watch a movie in the living room.  What was also nice was that the girls would eat things that they normally would turn their noses up at because it was in the fun presentation of the Princess Platter.  So, I could sneak in healthy foods that way, too.  When JK came along, I changed the name to the Royal Platter.  This version is called "with soy" because sometimes I use baked tofu for the main protein.  I love making the platters as much as they love eating from them, and no two are ever the same.  Here is just our latest version.

Royal Platter (with soy)


Possibilities are limited only to what you can think of.  This is what we had one night:

Gimme Lean, sausage style, cut into rounds and sauteed
8 - 10 red potatoes, quartered and roasted, seasoned with salt and pepper
Celery, sliced into strips
Carrots, cut into sticks
Marinated artichoke hearts
Olives with peppers and garlic
Chocolate Chunks
Ketchup, BBQ sauce, and vegan Worcestershire sauce for dipping


Once all the food has been prepared, put it into a large divided dish.  Pair up similar foods with each other, or ones that will go well with a partner or two.  Skewer a few items with toothpicks.  Keep dipping sauces and napkins handy. Feeds five hungry vegans.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Winter Veggie Stir-Fry

Here's a simple but delicious stir-fry using the bounty from Winter.  Feel free to sub any of your favorites in that you find in the farmer's market.  This combination was just perfect.

Winter Veggie Stir-Fry


2 Tbs. olive oil
1 onion, halved and sliced (both halves)
3 carrots, sliced in diagonal
3 celery sticks, sliced
1 green bell pepper, quartered and sliced
2 small turnips or 1 large, thinly sliced
2 King oyster mushrooms, halved width wise and thinly sliced into long strips
2 cups of baby dino kale, chopped
Soy sauce to taste
Cooked brown rice


In a large pan, heat the oil over medium high heat.  When hot add the onion, carrots, celery, bell pepper and turnips.  Stir frequently for five to seven minutes, until they just become fork-tender.  Add the mushrooms and cook for an additional two minutes.  Add the kale and soy sauce and cook until the kale just starts to wilt and turns a bright green, about two or three minutes.  Serve over brown rice.  Feeds five hungry vegans.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Salad Bar Night!

As most of you probably do, we eat plenty of salads with and for dinner.  With children, I like to keep it as fun as possible, for even though they're vegan, they're still kids and don't always want to eat a salad every day.  So, Ill make a variety of salads from different regions, or have big individual salads loaded with their favorite toppings, or like this version: I'll have a salad bar with familiar and unfamiliar things to top whatever greens are the base that night.

My dear mother, bless her heart, gave me three heads of iceberg lettuce.  Just like home, ah, the memories.  The only time we usually eat iceberg now is when we're over at my parents or when she drives over to bring me three heads of it.  So, there it is, the star of our show, and it's thumbing its nose at Romaine, red leaf, butter, endive, and radicchio.  Let it have its crunchy glory, I say, surrounded by all sorts of goodness!  Below, I'll list the toppings left to right, just to give you an idea of what you can have.  Add or take away at your taste bud's pleasure. 

The Salad Bar

What my plate looked like loaded up.

Salad Bar Night


Nice big bowl of lettuce, chopped
A variety of ingredients with proper handling tools provided.  We had:
  Pear tomatoes
  Finely grated Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet cheese, Monterey Jack style
  Green onions, sliced
  Carrots, grated
  Celery, chopped
  Raw turnip, grated
  Radish, grated
  Green bell pepper, diced
  Parsley greens, chopped small
  Sliced almonds
  Marinated artichoke hearts

A variety of dressings, olive and sesame oils, red wine and balsamic vinegars and lemon juice


Top lettuce to your heart's content with the goodies.  Add the dressings to season lightly.  Eat!  Feeds five hungry vegans.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Pumpkin Pecan Bread with Chocolate Glaze

I started developing a recipe for pumpkin bars a few months ago with some of my pumpkin puree .  Unfortunately, the bars turned out too gooey and soft to be called bars, so I kept trying and tweaked my ingredients.  I had added a chocolate glaze to the top of them, and for my family, that was all they needed to give them a thumbs up, but I knew it was just the chocolate channeling through them.  So, as I fiddled with the ingredients, I thought I had come up with a winner.  However, this batch turned out more like pumpkin bread, but it was good pumpkin bread! I wondered if I should keep forging ahead with the idea of bars or just settle for good bread.  I decided good bread was good enough...for now.  I thought I would just give it to my family, as is, but the uproar for the chocolate glaze was deafening, so on the bread went the glaze.  I made two square loaves of bread and froze one for Christmas dessert.  If you also decide to freeze extras, just freeze the bread, and add the glaze before serving.  I also suggest rewarming the bread in the oven, instead of just serving after thawing. However, I noticed that my thawed out bread was drier than the one that was freshly made, so I would freeze with caution.

Pumpkin Pecan Bread with Chocolate Glaze

Here's a square of that yummy bread.  See those pecans nestled within?

Pumpkin Pecan Bread with Chocolate Glaze


Non-stick spray 

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 cup oats
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 and 1/2 cups rice milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract.
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup whole pecans, chopped

1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbs. cocoa
2 Tbs. soy milk


For the bread:  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray an 8x8 pan with non-stick spray and set aside.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients: the flour through the cinnamon.  Add the rice milk and vanilla and beat on medium speed with electric mixer until well blended.  Add the pumpkin and nuts and stir well with a spoon, until blended in.  Pour batter into pan.  Bake for 60 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Cool pan on cooling rack. 

For the glaze:  When the bread is completely cooled, remove from pan and place on serving platter.  Mix together the glaze ingredients in a small bowl with a spoon.  Spread over bread.  Let firm up before cutting.  Very good.  Feeds five hungry vegans for a couple of days.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

My Birthday Food Fun, 2012

Yesterday was my birthday, so in keeping with posting on places to eat, I'm including the restaurants that we went to to celebrate.  To be even more helpful, I'm including the actual addresses of the restaurants, just in case you make the drive.  :-)  My daughters also made my cake, and my mom made a pudding pie, mmm-mm.

 The first restaurant is Andy Nguyens (2077 Broadway, Sacramento) that is a Buddhism-influenced vegetarian restaurant.  My mom took me there on Friday for lunch to start the eatin' early.

We started with a simple soup that the waitress described as "broth with vegetables."  She really sold it with her vibrant description, don't you think?  My mom held the spoon up for your viewing pleasure.  There was some basic soft seitan in there as well.

Next came the Treasure Rolls, which we thought looked beautiful.  To make it vegan, they subbed out the veggie ham for veggie shrimp.  It had a nice peanut sauce to go with it.

This is my mom's dish, Supreme Wisdom, which is so apropos.  It was was seitan and veggies in a coconut milk broth.  The jasmine rice was on the side.  When I asked about the side salad that was mentioned on the menu, we were told that the pot stickers were the salad.  So now you know: pot stickers are salad.  Inside it appeared there was mashed tofu with some indefinable veggie.

My dish was the Limitless Compassion, which is true if you have a good story.  I didn't bother showing you the "salad" again.  My dish was mock beef and veggies in a spicy sauce.  I have no idea how the peppery substance got on the plate.

All in all we liked the food.  The restaurant has changed since the last time I was there about five years ago, but it's still similar to what it was.  I was not overly impressed to the point that I wouldn't investigate our other vegan Asian treasures around town.  But, it was satisfying.

For dinner on Saturday night, my parents took us to Thai Takieng (4400 San Juan Blvd., Fair Oaks), the same place we went for G's birthday last year.  I like this restaurant, and every time I go, I like to try something new off the menu.

I started with a bowl of Tom Kha: Artichoke Soup.  And artichoke soup it was!  Can you see them floating there?  Besides artichokes, there were button and straw mushrooms in a coconut milk broth,  And that was about it.  It was very simple, but for a girl who loves artichokes, mushrooms and coconut milk, it was great.

My main dish was Pad Kra-Prao:  Chili and Thai Basil Stir-fry.  I had my choice of tofu or mock meats, and I chose mock chicken.  I wish now I had just stuck with tofu to soak up the flavors more.  Without sounding boastful, I like my own seitan: I can flavor it just right, and most restaurant versions are kind of bland.  The sauce and veggies here were great, and it was just spicy enough.  G and I shared brown rice to go with it.

Here is my birthday cake.  SR made the batter for the cake, and GR made the frosting.  It was delicious!

Here is the chocolate peanut butter pudding pie that my mom made.

Er, my dessert plate shows my fondness for pudding pies.  Ahem.  I loved my cake, though, too!

Hope you enjoyed the food tour of my day.  G's turn comes up in two weeks.  And, as usual, for two weeks he says I'm too old for him.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Sausage and Cheese Muffins

I developed this recipe a few weeks before Christmas to see if they would turn out, and they did.  So, I presented them on Christmas morning for my family, including my parents, to enjoy.  They are hearty and a tasty way to start the day.

Just a note: You'll see that I'll be using flax seed thickener, instead of EggReplacer, in my savory dishes.  Just trying to incorporate more flax in our diet.

Sausage and Cheese Muffins
1 Tbs. olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped small
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1 pkg. Gimme Lean sausage style, diced small
1 pkg. Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet cheese, cheddar style, shredded finely and divided
2 cups of flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. flax seed meal
3 Tbs. water
1 and 1/2 cups plain rice milk
Non-stick spray
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a large pan, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the garlic and green onion, and saute for one minute.  Add the diced sausage to the pan, and cook for five minutes, until it has browned.  Stir occasionally.  Add half of the cheese to the sausage mixture and stir until it has softened and blended in, about one minute.  Set aside to cool while you work with the rest of the ingredients.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.  In a small pot, mix together the flax seed meal with the water.  Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it is thickened, about a minute or two.  Add this, along with the rice milk, to the flour mixture.  Using a hand mixer, blend on medium low speed until incorporated.  Add the sausage mixture, and stir well with a spoon.  Spray a cupcake pan's wells with the non-stick spray.  Fill wells to the top with batter.  Top with the remaining cheese.  Bake for 40 minutes.  An inserted toothpick will not come out clean because of the cheese and sausage inside the muffin, but after 40 minutes, they will be done.  Makes one dozen muffins.  These freeze great, as well, if you want to double the recipe.  Feeds five hungry vegans.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Kale with Oyster Mushrooms and Garlic

I'm a BIG fan of mushrooms and always have been.  Of course I love the humble white button and its cousin the brown crimini, portabellos big or small, shitakes, straw shrooms, a woody-eared shroom, and enoki, but, I've never had oyster mushrooms before.  So, when I saw them for sale at the farmer's market, I thought I'd give them a try.  I brought them home with some fresh kale and made a fantastic dish for lunch that took less than ten minutes to cook.  The mushrooms released an incredibly savory liquid that added so much flavor to the dish.  I am definitely sold on oyster mushrooms now!

One thing on the recipe: I normally like to list ingredients by measurement not weight, but the vendor sold her shrooms by weight, and I didn't think to see how much of a cup they were.  I'm thinking a cup to a cup and a half.  But, you can just guesstimate.

Kale with Oyster Mushrooms and Garlic


1 Tbs. olive oil
5 cloves of garlic, sliced
1/2 pound of oyster mushrooms, bottom end trimmed, approx. 1 and 1/2 cups
1 lg. bunch of kale, approx. 8 to 10 cups, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste


Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat.  When hot, add the garlic and cook for one minute, until the garlic releases its fragrance.  Add the mushrooms and saute just for five minutes.  Add the kale and mix well.  Cook until kale just starts to wilt and is a beautiful bright green color.  Season lightly and serve immediately.  So addictive that it's hard to stop eating from the pan after you're supposedly done.  Feeds five hungry vegans.