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Vegan Maple Baked Beans

My grandma used to make baked beans that my dad would go gaga over. I personally thought they were disgusting. That may have been because they were probably born out of bacon fat renderings. So, you probably understand what I’m talking about. Of course, like most great family recipes they aren’t exactly written down. If someone doesn’t honor the family secret by being taught the family recipe, then it dies with the great inventor. Now, I didn’t like those beans particularly, but I am a fan of baked beans. I mean, what holiday would survive a lack of a delicious baked bean? Certainly not July 4th. While most baked beans have an animal fat as the star of the show, Oh She Glows took out the animal and added an extra dose of Canada via Maple Syrup (who doesn’t love a dose of Canadian PM Justin Trudeau?). I give you fresh from the Crockpot, Maple Baked Beans.


  • 4.5 cups cooked navy or northern beans (approx. 3 (15-ounce) small cans -without liquid). In this picture I used 5C northern beans from the glass jars in the grocery.
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced
  • 3-4 tbsp blackstrap molasses
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons regular mustard
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 8 oz/1 cup canned diced tomatoes without liquid
  • 1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • Handful of dried cranberries or cherries

I dumped all of these items into the Crockpot. If you want a little sweeter onion flavor, brown the onions and let them reduce on the stove then add to the Crockpot. Don’t forget to rinse and drain your beans or good luck to you as you eat baked bean soup. I cooked these overnight on low and then for another 6 hours on high the following day to get a richer, thicker liquid. It didn’t burn or impact the bean texture much. I love how this recipe doesn’t call for ketchup or brown sugar. These flavors are so much more earthy and smoked.

Directions from original author – Slow-cooker method: Add cooked and drained beans into the slow cooker. Chop the onion and place the onion, molasses, maple syrup, mustard, vinegar, salt, tomatoes, and cranberries (optional) into the slow cooker and stir well. (Alternatively you can also cook these on the stove top or baked in the oven!). Cook over high heat for about 4-5 hours (however they can be eaten after just a couple hours of cooking), or cook them on the lowest heat setting for 7-8 hours. Make sure to check the beans frequently as I am not sure if this mixture will burn. After scooping into bowls, scoop on a bit of maple butter or drizzle pure maple syrup on top. Serves 3-4.


It’s Coming……

VVPL its coming

Last of Summer Squash, Summer Tacos

Dinner tonight comes courtesy of an overdose of summer squash and tomatoes from our CSA. Can’t get enough of these tacos. Enjoy!

Veg Bon Vivant

Today, it reached 86 degrees in west Michigan.  Did I mention it’s SEPTEMBER!  So what better way to celebrate summer’s last hurrah?  Summer Squash Tacos.  This is a colorful way to get your family/friends to eat their veggies AND use up that plethora of summer squash you have sitting in the crisper waiting for a slow veg death.  Throw in some homemade corn tortillas (thanks for the idea Chef Mike and Andrea) and you have a substantial tasting low-fat and low-cal dish.  Easy on the add on’s and you can keep it healthy and light.  Make the tortillas, the taste of fresh corn tortillas will change your life.  I swear.

Corn Tortillas

  • 2 C Masa Harina
  • 1 1/2 C Hot water
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

Yeah, that’s it.  Three ingredients.  Combine the Masa Harina and salt with the hot water until it takes form, cover, toss in fridge for an…

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Zucchini Surplus Yields Sweet Treats

Zucchini season is upon us. I’m making these RIGHT NOW! You should too.

Veg Bon Vivant

It’s summer in Michigan. What neighbor or friend hasn’t pawned off on your family a plastic bag chock full of zucchini? Don’t scoff at this gift, use it to make killer baked goods and drive them mad with envy at the neighborhood potluck. This post will not only turn out tasty goodies, but more importantly make you LOOK like a kitchen god/goddess.

First up: Blueberry Zucchini Bread

  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 3 cups all-purpose whole grain flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 pint fresh blueberries


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease 4 mini-loaf pans, or 2 large loaf pans.

In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, oil, applesauce vanilla, and sugar…

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Happy Birthday to Me! Vegan Cupcake Recipe for YOU!

Another cupcake recipe. This one is my fave. I have a tub of Pillsbury frosting to make the experience complete. I added to this batch 1 tsp of cinnamon and 1 tsp of espresso for a Mexican chocolate flavor. Happy birthday week to ME!

Veg Bon Vivant

In honor of my birthday today (36 is the new 26), a vegan cupcake recipe for your nom nom pleasure.

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes

  • 3 C all purpose flour
  • 2 C white sugar
  • 6T cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 C vegetable or canola oil
  • 2 T white distilled vinegar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 C cold water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F).

Sift the dry ingredients together into a large mixing bowl.  Gently add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients until just combined.

Scoop out 1/4 C batter into cupcake wrappers.

Bake 350 x 12-16 minutes depending on your oven.  My batches all averaged about 15 minutes in a conventional gas oven.

Let cool and frost with your fave vegan frosting or Pillsbury chocolate frosting (both dark and milk chocolate varieties are accidentally vegan).

Thank you to my friends Jon Dunn and Kolene Allen…

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Garlic OCD

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I might judge you if you don’t cut off the little dry nubs at the end of the garlic cloves before using…so you probably should. I’ve always had this hangup, this thing, this annoyance with garlic. When it comes right off the bulb, the little clove has one delightful and beautiful smooth side and then this incredibly gross, haggard, dry, crackled side that makes me hate it. I cut that piece off every, single, time. You should too-it creeps me out.


Talkin’ Tempeh

I recently found an article, it’s an oldie but a goodie.  I liked so much I thought I reproduce a part of it for you, my faithful followers.  I get bored of tofu this and tofu that and sometimes I just want something toothsome and jerky like.  This texture usually helps make my TLTs a little more BLT if you know what I mean.  Tempeh while it’s my newest taco go-to…it’s still an odd vegan duck.  Here are some ways to break it in a little, making it less weird and more yum.  Give it a try.

Methods To The Madness
Tempeh is so so versatile, it takes to just about any cooking method you throw its way. Here are a few methods, along with recipes, to get you started. But feel free to use some of your favorite marinades in place of these. All of the following recipes are for 8 ounces of tempeh and serve 2 to 4 people.

Basic Baked Tempeh
This marinade of basic pantry ingredients works well with any of the cuts of tempeh. Try sandwich slices or serve slabs over a salad or alongside mashed potatoes, gravy and greens.

8 oz tempeh

  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons tamari
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

Here’s what you do:
Mix together ingredients and marinate tempeh for at least an hour or up to overnight.

Preheat oven to 400 F. Lightly oil a baking sheet. Place tempeh slices on sheet in a single layer. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, flipping once. Spoon extra marinade over tempeh a few times during baking.

Hot Sauce Grilled Tempeh
This tempeh is excellent served with sauteed greens and mashed sweet potatoes. Use a cast iron grill for best results indoors.

  • 8 oz tempeh, in slabs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup Louisiana hot sauce
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional, if you like a little extra heat)

Here’s what you do
Mix together ingredients and marinate tempeh for at least an hour or up to overnight.

Preheat a greased grill pan over medium-high heat. To grease it, brush lightly with olive oil or if you have a spray bottle of olive oil, that works, too.

Grill each side for 5 minutes, until dark grill marks appear. When the second side is almost done, spoon some of the marinade over the tempeh and let cook for 30 more seconds.

Sauteed Tempeh With Chard
I’m kind of cheating here because when I serve this for dinner I call it “sauteed,” but when I serve it for brunch I call it “scrambled.” Either way, it’s wonderful paired with roasted butternut squash. For this recipe, cubed tempeh is perfect.

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 16 oz tempeh, cubed
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced (about 1/2 a cup)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme, or 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Fresh black pepper
  • 4 large leaves Swiss chard, or any leafy green, torn into pieces

Here’s what you do:
Preheat a large, heavy bottomed pan (preferably cast iron) over medium heat. Saute in 2 tablespoons olive oil for about 7 minutes, stirring often, until lightly browned. Add red bell pepper, and red onion and drizzle in remaining tablespoon of oil. Saute for about 5 minutes, veggies should be softened but still have a bit of crunch.

Add garlic and thyme, saute for two minutes more. Season with salt and pepper. Add swiss chard and saute just until wilted. Serve immediately.

Tempeh Sausage Crumbles
These are perfect for topping pizza or serving over pasta. No need to steam the tempeh for this recipe.

  • 8 oz tempeh
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seed
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried margoram or oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon extra olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Here’s what you do:
In a saute pan, crumble the tempeh and add enough water to almost cover it. Over high heat, steam the tempeh until most of the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Drain the remaining water, add the rest of the ingredients and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 10 minutes.

Tempeh Bacon
Tempeh bacon is great alongside scrambled tofu and home fries, served over a salad or make a TLT with some vegan mayo – Veganaise grapeseed mayo is a favorite. Use tempeh strips for this.

8 oz tempeh

  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon liquid smoke
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3/4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • To cook: 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Here’s what you do:
In a wide shallow bowl, mix together all the marinade ingredients. Add the tempeh slices and marinade for about an hour.

Preheat a large heavy bottomed pan over medium high heat. Pan fry the tempeh in oil for about 7 to 10 minutes, flipping occasionally and adding more marinade as you cook. Tempeh is done when it is browned and crispy to your liking.

Pepper Jelly

I’ve been asked for this recipe at least a dozen times in the last few days.  Here is a re-post of Pepper Jelly.

Turns out, I can grow jalapenos.  Lots of them in fact.  I picked most of them today, grabbed a few red bell peppers from the Fulton Street Farmer’s Market, gloved up, and started chopping.  I make a few batches of this so that I can gorge myself in the summer, and then later I get serious about storing 6-8 jars for holiday gift giving, and/or unexpected guests fa-la-la-la-la-ling up at my house and me with nothing to serve.  This makes a great show off appetizer in the dead of winter with a cream cheese base, served over a cracker.  Summer on a wheat thin.  Plus, you look all Betty Crocker-like for having something preserved (ohhhhh, ahhhhh) on hand.  It’s a win-win.  I modified this recipe from my friend Lins Ray’s recipe.

Pepper Jelly

  • 3 large red bell peppers (you can use green, yellow, whatever you want here-I prefer red)
  • 14-18 medium jalapenos
  • 1 SMALL thai chili pepper (only if you like it HOT)
  • 1/2 c fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 c cider vinegar (could also use white in a pinch)
  • 6 c sugar (no substitutes)
  • 6 oz liquid fruit pectin (do not use powdered)

Chop all peppers into a really, really small dice removing seeds and most of the white vein inside the peppers.  Wear two sets of latex gloves for this task, you will thank me later.  Combine the lemon juice, peppers, vinegar and sugar in a large pot and boil for 15 minutes stirring occasionally, keep an eye on this as it will start to boil, then boil over like spaghetti does without any warning, then you are dunzo.  Add liquid pectin, boil 3-5 minutes more.  Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.  Spoon into jars or plastic containers, do not fill to top.  When this freezes like all other liquids it expands.  Full to the brim means a crack and loss of your precious jelly.  Store in freezer for up to 6 months, if it lasts that long.   DO NOT ATTEMPT TO MULTIPLY OR DIVIDE THE RECIPE.  For whatever reason, when you make jam, doubling or dividing the recipe results in utter failure.  Period.

To serve, pour thawed jelly over a log of cream cheese for a treat on crackers.  I have also, in a bind poured this over tofu “meatballs” in a crockpot and served as an appetizer.  The possibilities are endless.  Taste it and you will come up with some of your own.  Then come back here and post them for the rest of the Interwebs.


If you are so inclined.  I’d appreciate your vote:  West Michigan Woman Covergirl


I’d like to open my birth month, June, with a recipe #fail.  Otsu…which is now Yuck-su to me.

This is the first recipe from that I have loathed.  Hated it. Can’t stand it.  Won’t make it again.  I think I have made nearly every recipe Heidi Swanson has posted on her delightful website.  It’s my “go-to” site.  It’s the site that I direct people to when they are like, “you can’t eat anything good if you are a vegetarian” and it sucks them in every…single…time.  I dare you not to like Heidi OR her website  This recipe however, for me, didn’t suck me in.  It.  Just.  Sucked.  From the surface it looks like something I would eat myself into a food coma by; however, I felt it lacked a certain freshness I was expecting from the sauce.  It just tasted salty to me and sorta, I don’t know, blah.  The cucumber was a strange random addition at the end.  I’m posting this because I think with a few additions or subtractions even, this might be a great dish…so go out there and tweak it to suit your tastes.  Sorry Heidi, this one failed for me.  I still love ya, but this one is getting black listed from my repeat list.


  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • Fresh ginger, cut into a 1-inch cube, peeled, and grated
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 3/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup unseasoned brown-rice vinegar
  • 1/3 cup shoyu sauce (wheat-free soy sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 12 ounces dried soba noodles
  • 12 ounces extra-firm nigari tofu
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cucumber, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, seeded, and thinly sliced
  • 1 small handful of cilantro sprigs, for garnish
  • 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds, for garnish

Make the dressing by combining the zest, ginger, honey, cayenne, and salt in a food processor (or use a hand blender) and process until smooth. Add the lemon juice, rice vinegar, and shoyu, and pulse to combine. With the machine running, drizzle in the oils.

Cook the soba in plenty of rapidly boiling salted water just until tender, then drain and rinse under cold running water.

While the pasta is cooking, drain the tofu, pat it dry, and cut it into rectangles roughly the size of your thumb (½ inch thick and 1 inch long). Cook the tofu in a dry nonstick (or well-seasoned) skillet over medium-high heat for a few minutes, until the pieces are browned on one side. Toss gently once or twice, then continue cooking for another minute or so, until the tofu is firm, golden, and bouncy.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the soba, the ¼ cup cilantro, the green onions, cucumber, and about ⅔ cup of the dressing. Toss until well combined. Add the tofu and toss again gently. Serve on a platter, garnished with the cilantro sprigs and the toasted sesame seeds.

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Just Add Sprinkles

Turns out Mr. Wonderful is totally kid friendly.  Also, he is artsy.  The recipe for this blog post is simple:  1 box rainbow chip cake mix made into cupcakes, vanilla frosting, loads of decorating items, and 1 Dakota.  Results may vary, but I think these were awesome!

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Happy Veguary!


Veg•u•ary (noun): Veguary refers to the second month of the year, in which those enthusiastic about fighting global warming, improving their health, or making a positive difference in the world commit to reducing or eliminating their meat intake.

Veguary, conceived in September 2009, is a student-run organization that encourages people to pledge to either eat no meat or less meat during the month of February (Vegetarian + February = Veguary).  We give people the power to confront several prevalent problems in our world.

By participating you can:

  • help in the effort to slow greenhouse gas emissions made by meat producers by raising awareness of the correlation between meat production and the environment.

  • take a stand against the unhealthy diets and habits of millions of Americans and against the title: “The Obese Country.”
  • take a stand against the inhumane treatment of animals by industrial meat producers.

Click on the BIG Veguary above to be whisked away to the site for a true education 🙂

Spicy Lentil Soup

Lentils are wildly simple to use, satisfying and filling, cheap and quick to cook.  Now why is it that you haven’t tried them?  Yeah, I’m not sure either.  Give this recipe a try.  It’s pretty tame as far as curry flavors go, so you can ease your friends/family into the whole lentil idea.  🙂

Spicy Red Lentil Soup

  • 1 cup yellow split peas
  • 1 cup red split lentils (masoor dal)
  • 7 cups liters water or veggie broth
  • 1 medium carrot, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 2-3 tablespoons fresh peeled and minced ginger
  • 2 tablespoons HOT curry powder (which if you purchase from Penzeys turns out to not be very hot, more spicy than hot)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (butter for non-vegans or ghee)
  • 2 cups or 1 can rinsed chickpeas
  • 8 green onions (scallions), thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 1/3 cup dried currants
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 1 14-ounce can low fat coconut milk
  • 2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
  • one small handful cilantro, chopped
  • cooked brown rice or farro, for serving (optional)

Give the split peas and lentils a good rinse – until they no longer put off murky water. This takes quite a while but believe me it is totally worth it.  The first time I made this, I rinsed just so-so and it was a no-go.  Ick.  Place them in an extra-large soup pot, cover with the water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and add the carrot and 1/4 of the ginger. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the split peas are soft.

In the meantime, in a small dry skillet or saucepan over low heat, toast the curry powder until it is quite fragrant. Be careful so as not to burn the curry, this is a huge #fail.  Set aside. Place the butter in a pan over medium heat, add half of the green onions, the remaining ginger, currants, and raisins. Saute for two minutes stirring constantly, then add the tomato paste and saute for another minute or two more.

Add the toasted curry powder to the tomato paste mixture, mix well, and then add this to the simmering soup along with the coconut milk and salt. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes or so. Add the cooked chickpeas just at the end so they don’t turn to mush.  The texture should thicken up, but you can play around with the consistency if you like by adding more water, a bit at a time, if you like. Or simmer longer for a thicker consistency. The thicker this soup got, the more I liked it.  Sprinkle each bowl generously with cilantro and the remaining green onions.

As Heidi Swanson so frequently does, I served this concoction over leftover brown rice that I would have tossed the next day.  It’s like upcycling for food.

Turns out this freezes beautifully for single-servings throughout the week.  It thickens up a bit, but just thin it out with water if you don’t like the consistency upon reheat.  I’ve found a container of this in the back of my freezer and enjoyed with delight up to four weeks later.  🙂


recipe adapted from

Wanted: Pretty Girls To Sit At The Bar

My girlfriend Randi has been dying to take me to this vegan restaurant in Chicago. It NEVER works out that we get to go when I’m there for anything and so my friend Amy and I took a trip to Chicago to eat, drink and be merry with Randi while her hubby was out of town. Best meal I’ve had in forever. You should certainly go out of the way to visit Karyn’s on Green in Greektown for a few reasons, 1) the waitstaff doesn’t tell you what you want to hear, they make you go out on that limb where the best fruit lies and pick it (the raw Maki roll is proof), 2)  Karyn greets you at the door and calls you pretty even when you don’t feel pretty, 3)  there is POPCORN to nosh on when you are waiting for your table drinking $12 expensive as all hell cocktails that an incompetent waiter is creating (you really do have your fingers crossed), 4) the bathroom blasts crunk, 5)  they take and adhere to reservations, 6) the food is amazing, 7) they have $7.00 valet parking so you can wear your fancy shoes that you actually can’t walk a city block in, to dine here.

I was basically in a food orgy, so these are the only two pics we could get on Randi’s sweet new phone.

Suzy Baker’s Fancy Meat Marinade

Suzy Baker was my college boyfriend’s mom. She was wonderful. Fun, lovely, stylish, composed, and a great cook. I didn’t know a lot about cooking until I met her. I mean, I had put together Chicken marinated with Italian dressing, brownies from a box, salads, and made pizzas from Pillsbury biscuits, but I didn’t use recipes to create a finished product. Suzy taught me to marinade cheap pieces of meat to create grilled masterpieces that tasted like they were filet mignon, mix together common household ingredients to make amazing dips and sauces when company showed up unexpectedly and more importantly taught me that you could be an educated mother and wife while not sacrificing your freedom or integrity of mind by finding joy in taking care of others; that it was still cool to be a care giver and a feminist at the same time. Suzy passed away a few years ago this week from cancer that she battled so gracefully for years, so I thought I’d feature this post of her “Fancy Meat Marinade” created from common pantry ingredients, which turns flank steak or any other cheap piece of meat (excluding seafood) into a succulent prime cut every time. This recipe helped create my dish that I entered in the Beat Bob’s Meat Contest that I wrote about in my last post. Thanks Suzy for lighting my culinary fuse.

Fancy Meat Marinade

  • 1 large sweet yellow onion cut into 1/8ths
  • 4 cloves garlic smashed with skins removed
  • 1 C EVOO
  • 1 C Red Wine Vinegar (any vinegar would be fine)
  • 1 C Soy Sauce
  • 1 C Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 C Worchestershire Sauce

Put above ingredients into a Ziploc freezer bag, add meat, marinade in fridge flat over night turning every 4 hours or so.  Marinade at least 12 hours, but not more than 48.  Grill meat to taste.  Do not use on seafood or tofu. 

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It’s you, NOT me

Dear WordPress,
I love your free application. It is easy to use. Well organized. Makes me look like a rockstar blogger. I’m gonna stop right there.

What I do not love or even marginally like however, is how you incorporate changes. Unannounced, profound changes. Who do you think you are? Trying to make my creative decisions for me? Hell, it’s hard enough for me to BE creative, but when I finally, FINALLY after spending hours deliberating about what assumptions my readers will make about my blog layout, YOU decide for ME to make changes?? You do not email me, or call, just make the choice for me. A choice that you “think I will like”? You don’t even know me! It took me weeks to decide what my ‘voice’ would be when I created this blog. I obsess about every post I make reading them over and over in my head, and well, nevermind….I’m pissed off that I have been pissed on. What is actually more infuriating is that after an entire online shit storm of people like me complaining and losing stuff, and it reappearing….then YOU CHANGE IT ALL BACK a week later. Change it all back? Change it all back AND call it customer service?? Are you kidding me? You know what all of the bloggers with that theme you disabled, I mean “improved” did after you “improved” it? We worked our asses off to put back, recreate, substitute and bandaid, rewrite, your changes, and then…then, you have the audacity to CHANGE IT BACK??!!!! Are you fucking crazy? I don’t have to describe this to you. You don’t deserve an explanation any further. This is all you get from me. You are not worth my energy.

It’s YOU WordPress, NOT me, it IS YOU. You know what you did. You might say that you are sorry, but your actions show me that you have complete disregard for me as a blogger. The only thing marginally working in your favor is all the GD work I’ve already put into this blog of mine, and the fact that my BF is wildly in love with your service. With this in mind, I will be evaluating our relationship to see if it is worth saving. I probably won’t email you though to tell you though, I will just make you guess on the changes that I “think you will like”, reformulate the parameters blindly, and make you worry about that which you cannot control. Sound familiar? I thought so.

The Veg Bon Vivant

Free-Form/Rustic Tart With Seasonal Fruit

So many peaches.  It’s a little deceiving when you are at the farm stand, the sun is shining, birds are chirping, bees buzzing, and the smell of fresh fruit is taking over your brain, how much might be too much??  Who cares??  It’s summer!!  Oh, wait, where am I going to put those?  If you read my post on blueberries, then you probably can guess how I did with peaches at the market…yeah…there are a lot of ’em in my freezer, next to the blueberries, ice packs and skinny cow bars.  🙂  Before I tossed them in the freezer, I texted my BFF from high school who is turning into an incredible pastry chef, she goes to the CIA in Hyde Park, NY and asked for a spectacular dough recipe that I could use to make a tart.  This is what she coughed up.

Makes 1-8″ tart traditionally, but I made 4 baby ones instead.

Simple Dough

  • 1 1/2 c all purpose flour (I used whole wheat, but then had to add more moisture at the end-keep reading)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 Splenda packet (I added this based on my research on the Internet with other recipes-sorry!)
  • 10 T unsalted cold butter cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 4-8 T ice cold water
  • Instructions
    In food processor, pulse flour and salt to combine, about three 1-second pulses. Scatter butter pieces over flour, then pulse until texture resembles coarse bread crumbs and butter pieces about the size of small peas remain, ten to twelve 1-second pulses. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon water over mixture and process 1 second; repeat until dough begins to form small curds and holds together when pinched with fingers. Empty dough onto work surface; dough will be crumbly (if dough has large dry areas, sprinkle additional 2 teaspoons water over dry areas and incorporate by gently fluffing entire amount of dough with fingers). Using bench scraper, gather dough into rough mound about 12 inches long and 4 inches wide (mound should be perpendicular to edge of counter). Beginning from farthest end, use heel of a hand to smear about one sixth of dough against work surface away from you. Repeat until all dough has been worked. Using bench scraper, gather dough again and repeat. Dough should now be cohesive. Form dough into 4-inch disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate until cold and firm but malleable, about 1 hour.For fruit I added about 1/4 c fruit mixed with 3/4 tsp flour for EACH tart.  Specifically I made:  2 peach/lemon tarts by taking skinned cut up peaches, a dash of nutmeg, a dash of cinnamon, a squeeze of lemon, zest of the lemon and the flour and 2 blueberry/ginger/lime tarts by taking blueberries, a squeeze of lime, zest of the lime, and a few shavings of fresh grated ginger.  Put the fruit in a mound in the center of each mini tart, folded the edges in to make a little pocket and baked at 350 for 30-45 minutes, my dough was a little bit thicker due to the whole wheat crust.  Check for browning at 20-25 and go from there.  You want it firm, yet not dry and golden brown.  I recommend when you are putting this on a pan to bake use parchment paper or kiss your free form goodbye and call it cobbler.  You want it to survive the plating.

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    When this was all said and done, I had a few leftover peaches in juice, and blueberries, so I popped them in a pie plate and made a little crisp for snacking.  Fruit on the bottom then add:

    • 1 C brown sugar
    • 1 C chopped pecans
    • 1 C oats
    • pinch of salt
    • 4 T butter or margarine (melted or softened and worked into oat mix)


    Put all of these ingredients into a bowl smash ’em together with your hands, get right in there, to make little delish buttery clumps of oat, pat this mixture down on the top of fruit on the pie plate and bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 – 60 minutes until bubbly.  Hint: put a cookie sheet under the pan to catch the juice that will escape and then consequently burn in your oven causing you grief.  Skip that step and just dirty a dish will ya?

Ten Pounds Of Blueberries, Is About Seven Too Many

First, I need a stand alone freezer.  If anyone has one in good working order for cheap or even free, please contact me at once.  Yes, I’m checking Craig’s List.

Sometimes being a vegetarian leads you to a little bit of panic in the summer when you remember that you basically survive the winter on frozen fruits you stuffed away yourself in June/July/August, squash, squash, potatoes and more squash.  You can see the dilemma.  No variety for FRESH foods here in the midwest in say, February.  I’m a master at creating nothing from squash, but even I get desperate and get into the pizza cunundrum every so often if I don’t have enough frozen goods squirreled away.  So, on Saturday, I was convinced that what was necessary to make it through winter, was ten (10) pounds of blueberries – Mr. Wonderful doesn’t even think this is crazy, yet-he’s a delight isn’t he?!  So the first thing I bake, is Ina Garten’s Blueberry Coffee Cake Muffins to keep Mr. Wonderful from hating which will be, seven (7) pounds of frozen blueberries packed in convenient 2 c serving sizes in quart bags, blocking the way of 1) the ice packs for the beer cooler and 2) the skinny cow ice cream bars.  Blueberry pancakes anyone?

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Hey Ya’all, Paula Deen Ain’t All Bad

So, I’m typically not a big fan of Paula Deen.  I do I love her story.  Single mom of two small boys, coming from nothing, crappy husband who left her in the dust, sold bag lunches to survive and now is a media marvel.  I mean, she’s spunky, all grandmotherly, not to mention RICH but I just don’t dig down home southern dishes that begin with “first, take 4 sticks of butter” and end with “serve with sweet tea”…well, I don’t dig those dishes with with three exceptions 1) bbq sauce, 2) cornbread and 3) Bobby Deen-oh, he’s a dish alright.
I had an excess of peaches from Potter’s Orchard this weekend, and so, I whipped up my own version of Bobby and Paula Deen’s Peach BBQ Sauce.
  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons prepared mustard
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • Pinch garlic salt
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cups fresh peaches
  • 1 lime, juiced and zested
  • 1/8 cup Frank’s Red Hot
  • 1 tsp Harissa (moroccan style hot chilli paste)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder

Directions:  Reserve skinless peaches and dump all other ingredients into a medium sized sauce pan, bring to a boil for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, you don’t want the brown sugar to burn.  In a food processor, puree skinless peaches, add to sauce pan, simmer 30-60 minutes until slightly thickened.  Put contents of sauce pan back into the food processor and whip it up to a consistency that you would enjoy on a protein.  Yeah, it’s really that easy to make bbq sauce.  Tons less sugar and stabilizers than that store brand you have had in the fridge since last Christmas when you made bbq wieners.

My second shout out to Paula Deen and co. is in the form of this recipe for Baked Hush Puppies (this is basically cornbread muffins, idk why they call ’em Hush Puppies) that I found in an old Food Network Magazine.  These were a great addition to a cook off I attended this past weekend where meat, bags and beer were the stars-men are so simple.  This sunny side didn’t crowd the table and it didn’t make you too full, wasn’t super sweet, it’s a nice savory, pop-it-in-your-mouth, piece of nummy that’s only half bad for you.  Of course I couldn’t leave well enough alone, and was not able to stop myself from adding to the batter 1 c fresh corn kernels from some peaches and cream corn I got from Potter’s Orchard stand.  Next time I will probably stir in some pickled jalapenos or some canned chilis to make ’em even more smoky.  For some reason when you present cornbread or anything in small muffin form, people think you are a pastry chef, so go ahead and take some of the credit, you did have to wash cornmeal out of a bowl which is basically like trying to get ce-ment off a sidewalk, ya’all.

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Crap. I Don’t Have Any Chili Powder.

What did we do before the Internet?  I mean, if we didn’t have Chili Powder, we didn’t make the dish…now, Google (I love you) just spits out a recipe, you fine tune it to your likes, and now I never have to purchase it again, ’cause just like I learned for Taco Seasoning last year, Chili Powder as you make it, is so much better than the stuff in the spice isle.  Carry on.

Chili Powder

  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder

Combine all items, stir to distribute evenly, and store in an airtight container for up to 3 months.

Oh, and about that taco seasoning:
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp ground cumin

Mix it together.  Keep in a cool dry place, makes 1 1/4 ounces which I think is what is in one packet from the store.

LEP’s Magic Lemonade

Upon request of my rad hair lady I’m posting this recipe which is a Diva beach staple.  Do not try to serve it in a Solo cup at the beach, break out a real cup and keep the Rangers at bay. When they see a Solo cup they know you have booze.  I first tasted this lemonade when LEP hosted a delicious dinner party, everyone raved about it.  It takes a little effort, so I usually double up on the simple syrup recipe and then freeze half of it until the next weekend when I want to take these back to the beach.  Warning:  this is a delicious and sneaky drink.  Paper, rock, scissors BEFORE you begin drinking these for who will lay off the MAGIC and drive your group home.  Do not underestimate this MAGIC in the sun.

First create the MAGIC base for the lemonade, ginger simple syrup:

  • 3 c of water boiled w/ 1 cup of sugar (use more if you want, typically we drink it sour but we are not nice girls.  if you are a nice girl consider 2-3 c sugar here)
  • 2-3 inches of sliced ginger (use more if you like it particularly snappy)
  • Add a stalk of pounded lemongrass (if you are feeling sassy)
  • Once sugar is dissolved, cover and let steep at least an hour-this is VERY important.
  • Chill the syrup.

To assemble the lemonade, add to a pitcher or thermos:

  • Magic simple syrup
  • 1 cup of lemon juice, fresh squeezed please (i’ve used lime in a pinch too)
  • 1.5 cups vodka or gin (i’m a vodka girl, i don’t like the taste of pine trees, thanks)
  • club soda or sparking water (use a 2 liter for this amount of base)

Pour over ice cubes and let the Magic set in.

Pepper Jelly

Turns out, I can grow jalapenos.  Lots of them in fact.  I picked most of them today, grabbed a few red bell peppers from the Fulton Street Farmer’s Market, gloved up, and started chopping.  I make a few batches of this so that I can gorge myself in the summer, and then later I get serious about storing 6-8 jars for holiday gift giving, and/or unexpected guests fa-la-la-la-la-ling up at my house and me with nothing to serve.  This makes a great show off appetizer in the dead of winter with a cream cheese base, served over a cracker.  Summer on a wheat thin.  Plus, you look all Betty Crocker-like for having something preserved (ohhhhh, ahhhhh) on hand.  It’s a win-win.  I modified this recipe from my friend Lins Ray’s recipe. 

Pepper Jelly

  • 3 large red bell peppers (you can use green, yellow, whatever you want here-I prefer red)
  • 14-18 medium jalapenos
  • 1 SMALL thai chili pepper (only if you like it HOT)
  • 1/2 c fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 c cider vinegar (could also use white in a pinch)
  • 6 c sugar (no substitutes)
  • 6 oz liquid fruit pectin (do not use powdered)

Chop all peppers into a really, really small dice removing seeds and most of the white vein inside the peppers.  Wear two sets of latex gloves for this task, you will thank me later.  Combine the lemon juice, peppers, vinegar and sugar in a large pot and boil for 15 minutes stirring occasionally, keep an eye on this as it will start to boil, then boil over like spaghetti does without any warning, then you are dunzo.  Add liquid pectin, boil 3-5 minutes more.  Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.  Spoon into jars or plastic containers, do not fill to top.  When this freezes like all other liquids it expands.  Full to the brim means a crack and loss of your precious jelly.  Store in freezer for up to 6 months, if it lasts that long.   DO NOT ATTEMPT TO MULTIPLY OR DIVIDE THE RECIPE.  For whatever reason, when you make jam, doubling or dividing the recipe results in utter failure.  Period.

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To serve, pour thawed jelly over a log of cream cheese for a treat on crackers.  I have also, in a bind poured this over tofu “meatballs” in a crockpot and served as an appetizer.  The possibilities are endless.  Taste it and you will come up with some of your own.  Then come back here and post them for the rest of the Interwebs.

Hey Bobby, Look At Me!

Friday nights, typically Mr. Wonderful and I grab a pizza and lounge, catching up on the DVR, watching movies, etc.  Last night, we were watching The Next Food Network Star on DVR and I became jealous of one of the contestants, yes, jealous over Pomegranate Molasses of all things.  Bobby Flay was all twitterpated over Aarti’s HOMEMADE Pom Molasses.  I was like Bobby, here I am…I make Pom Molasses for my tofu kabobs with Muhammara Sauce, like all the time!!!  He didn’t listen.  I will maintain my Pom Molasses to be far superior to Aarti’s (sorry, you are still my fave contestant) and here is why:

Pom Molasses

  • 4 C Pom Juice (if you are really feelin’ it, you should get Pom Cherry)
  • 1/2 C white sugar
  • 1/4 C lemon juice, use fresh squeezed

Directions:  In  large, uncovered saucepan, heat pomegranate juice, sugar, and lemon juice on medium high until the sugar has dissolved and the juice simmers. Reduce heat just enough to maintain a simmer. Simmer for about an hour, or until the juice has a syrupy consistency, and has reduced to 1 to 1 1/4 cups. Pour out into a jar. Let cool. Store chilled in the refrigerator.

If you want your pomegranate molasses to be sweeter, add more sugar to taste, while you are cooking it.

Warning, do not overboil.  Pro:  turns to delicious hard crack candy.  Con:  time to buy another bottle of Pom and start over, b/c you still need molasses and now you have candy instead.  Damn.

So what the heck do I use it for?  This delicious slather that goes on ANYTHING, particularly veggie kabobs, in pitas with tofu and veggies…well you get the idea.  This makes a bunch but freezes beautifully in a freezer bag for up to 3 months.  Need more ideas, visit the Pom Wonderful site.

Muhammara Slather

  •  1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
    flakes or 1 small red chile
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 cup walnuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup whole-grain bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 to 3 roasted red peppers
  • 1/2 to 1 cup warm water
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt

Puree the chile flakes, cumin, walnuts, bread crumbs, olive oil, pomegranate molasses, tomato paste, and red peppers to a smooth, even consistency. Mix in the warm water in increments to achieve an easily spreadable consistency similar to a thick yogurt. If you’re going to use it for dipping, you might want to leave it a bit thicker. Stir in the salt and adjust the seasonings if needed.

*Adapted from Heidi Swanson

When Life Gives You Basil, Make Pesto…Even If You Can’t Afford Pine Nuts

I was outside assessing a new bee’s nest under the railing of the deck (I’m allergic), when out of the corner of my eye, I saw my tomato plants in the garden and a huge bush growing under three of them…BASIL!  The king of all garden herbs!  A TON of beautiful, glossy, fragrant basil.  The thing about basil is if you let it go to flowers, you are basically out of luck the rest of the summer and the bees just get to make nummy honey out of your labor.  So I stop planning my attack on the bee kingdom for a few hours anyway, and set out to harvest most of the basil.

Mr. Wonderful’s mom, is, well, also Wonderful-sick isn’t it!  😉 We were talking about gardening before we put in our square box garden and she mentioned that to protect tomatoes from worms and mold, you should plant basil plants near or in the same plot as your tomato plants.  Well, I still don’t exactly know what it is that I am doing in the garden, so any advice is welcome from a seasoned professional.  Turns out this is called “companion gardening“!  Who knew!!  Gosh I love the Internet.  The only drawback to this marvelous plan, is that sometimes you forget you have basil even growing in your garden area, because it blends in so well, and fills out the tomato plants beautifully, so your garden just looks incredibly lush it is for just this reason that I forgot about my basil and consequently had a jackpot on my hands today.

So, pesto is this super delicious sauce that originated in Northern Italy, like a zillion years ago.  Pesto means “to crush or pound” from the root word pesta.  There is your Latin lesson for the day.  Although, this is a little misleading these days, as it should really have its roots in the Adrienne for “to food process” as I would never in a million years make this delicious stuff if I didn’t have a food processor.  No way.  Most recipes for pesto are pretty adaptable, you are looking mostly for 1) your tolerance of extra-virgin olive oil (don’t skimp here, it will taste cheap if you put in cheap oil), 2) your fave nut or nut combo and 3) your fave herb(s) for which to create your base and 4) consistency of a loose paste.   In my freezer I happened to have walnuts on hand (pine nuts cost a small fortune, so I typically don’t have those on hand), and for herbs, a mountain of basil.  Traditionally, pesto is made with pine nuts, but I’ve successfully made it with almonds, pecans, hazelnuts and walnuts.  Use what you like.  So, today’s recipe consequently is Walnut-Basil Pesto.  Later this afternoon, I’m going to try to get to my oregano and thyme to whip up another batch, that is…if I can get past that bee’s nest to the railing box where it is planted.

Walnut-Basil Pesto

Makes one ice cube tray full of deliciousness

2 c fresh basil, de-stemmed, washed and dried (be careful not to bruise it)

1/2 c walnuts (you can toast these if you like, just let cool before you use ’em)

4 cloves garlic

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

3-4 T EVOO, depending on consistency desired

1 tsp lemon zest

Here is the hard part, dump all of the ingredients into food processor except EVOO and mulch up, slowly add the EVOO until you achieve a paste-like mush, you can live with, should be sticking together like a slushy, yet still fluid.  Transfer into a Pam coated ice cube tray (yes, really) and you have the makings of a pasta sauce for 12 2-person meals for sometime when you have opted to look fancy but cook minimally.  I added the lemon zest because I had it already grated in the freezer.  That’s optional, it brightens up the pesto a little.  If you would like to use less oil, feel free to add 1/2 oil and 1/2 water, veg broth, or lemon juice in order to bring it to the correct consistency.  If you screw up, and it turns out runny, hey, it happens, dump in a few more walnuts or add grated parm/regg cheese to the mixture to soak up some of the liquid.  You really can’t mess this up.  Add what you like.  This is just a base for what you love and/or what you have in your kitchen ready to go.  When you have the right mix, your cube tray sprayed with Pam, go ahead and drop until each cube area is 3/4 full, top with a drop or two of EVOO and then cover with plastic wrap to freeze.  When they are frozen, transfer into plastic snack or freezer bags in individual serving sizes of one cube each.  You will reconstitute this nugget for sauce later.

So what now?  You have made pesto and you have no idea what to do with it, right?  Wrong.  Boil up about 8oz of your fave pasta, and toss with this little pesto nugget from the freezer, using a little of the pasta boiling water to thin out the pesto to a nice sauce, add some parm cheese and maybe some diced tomatoes, toss a slice of bread on your plate and you have a dinner that tastes like summer, even in the winter from your freezer.  How cool is THAT?!  Genius.

Stop contemplating the effort factor, there really isn’t any effort at all, and go make some from your basil that is about to go to ruin.

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Technique-Well, Sorta

Okay, so I ‘m obviously a self-taught, at home “chef” if you will, so I don’t have much technique per say.  I have had a lot of questions on FB recently about the beet post, mostly how to roast, so I thought I’d show you how we do it at our house.  The night I took these pics, we also had krispy baked kale with sea salt, and soy glazed tempeh.  I roasted the beets this night at 400 degrees, as that is what the kale had to be krisped at, and I didn’t want to spend too much extra time with the oven on during a hot night.  So basically, you do this: wash the beets to get off all the dirt and critters, cut off both ends, roll in foil with skin ON, roast until tender on a cookie sheet with a rim, just in case the juice runs out of your foil, then you don’t end up with a dirty oven like I have in the pics 🙂  This takes about an hour on 350, a little less time on 400.  Do not let them turn to mush, this is called Borscht and is wildly popular in Russia.  Just kidding…well, sorta.  When you remove the foils, wait for them to cool down enough to touch, THEN peel off the skin.  It comes off a ton easier this way.  Trust me.  I try everything the hard way first.  Krispy Kale is delish.  Your friends and kids will think it tastes like those really pricey root chips in the nature food store.   Rinse kale well, and I mean well, it is DIRTY and bugs love building homes in it.  Yes.  They.  Do.  Towel dry it lightly, sprinkle with sea salt and lightly spray with EVOO Pam.  Toss in oven at 400 until crisp.  Like falling apart crisp, any less and it will be chewy you almost burn it, so keep an eye on it.

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Lastly, a word or two or okay, a bunch on/about Tempeh.  Yes, it looks and smells HORRIBLE.  No, it doesn’t actually taste that way.  If you haven’t tried it, you should.  I know, I know…  It’s not that gross, if you prepare it in a way that is pleasing to you.  I like to make mine a bacon-like texture and flavor it with a salty/sweet sauce or marinade.  It holds a marinade really, really well.  It’s low in calories and in fat.  You can get it in many “flavors”, soy, veggie, wild rice…seeeeee it’s got mad appeal.  My tip to you:  rinse it BEFORE you do anything with it, immediately after you take it from the vacuum sealed pack-get off that icky whatever slime is on there.  This will make it way easier to handle, and the taste will not be so musty (it is afterall, um, aged).  I usually marinade it before in something then drizzle it with something else after.  For this dinner, I soaked it in reduced soy sauce for 30 minutes on the counter, pan fried to reduce the soy sauce, then took it off the heat and glazed it with a little bbq sauce.  Delish.  Tempeh is my staple “B” substitute in my amazing BLT sammie that Mr. Wonderful now confidently refers to as TLTAs:  tempeh, lettuce, tomato, avocado-this is why he is the PR guy and I am just a home chef.  🙂