Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Holiday Classics...Mostly - 2014

Hello, Everyone!  It is so good to be back on here.  I will not bore you all with what's been going on - it's been a lot, and I've been challenged in my personal life in more ways than I ever thought I would.  The challenges continue on, but it has been on my mind for so long to put up a post that I'm making a point now to do so.  This blog is a way for me to express myself with just the pleasures of my life, a bit of me that I get to share and to make friends in the process.  I will never abandon this blog without informing you first.  I don't know how many have or will stick around, but for those who are reading this, thank you.  I can't promise you timely posts in the new year, but it is my hope to be consistent.  I have posts that I still want to write from this year, so even though they will be out of date, I hope that I can still put them up.  Anyhoooowww, on with the food.

I am combining Thanksgiving and Christmas into one post, so this will have food galore.  I hope everyone's holidays have been good and that this new year brings you blessings.  I pray that 2015 brings peace and harmony into my life, as well.  And good eats!

Okay, I'm just going to show the pics, provide links, and tell you what we ate.  What did you guys eat this year for the holidays?

My Thanksgiving dinner plate.  The bowl is holding hot and sour soup, and on the plate clockwise is: roasted asparagus, soy chicken and tofu, tofurky and roasted veggies with gravy.  

Dessert: SR picked vanilla ice cream with strawberry sauce, GR picked Black Tie Cheesecake, and JK picked chocolate chip cookies.  I'll get a recipe out for those cookies.

Christmas breakfast included: Breakfast Potato Skillet ...

 Tofu Scramble...

  and this year's Christmas cookies and Happy Birthday, Jesus Cake, which was a Costco apple pie.  The cookies are Gingerbread Bears, Tiger Stripes, and Pecan Pie Cookie Cups.  Recipes for the first two cookies will be forthcoming, if you are interested.

JK delivered our annual Christmas cookies to the firemen.

For Christmas dinner, I brought Tofu, Brussels Sprouts and Peanut Stir-fry to share and

A lot of my family provided vegan dishes for us this year.  On my plate clockwise is: fried cabbage, cold green bean salad, a Gardein roast with gravy that I bought for my family, my mom's rendition of Aunt Versey's baked beans (an annual offering), my stir-fry, fruit salad and olives.  This was the fullest plate we've ever had at a family gathering.

The fun carried through dessert.  My aunt made my grandma's recipe for boysenberry cobbler.  See the yellow triangle in the corner?  Read in the pic below what it says.

A vegan corner just for us.  The glaze had butter in it; other than that, the whole cobbler was vegan.

My dessert plate: the cupcakes I brought, my mom's pineapple dump cake and her fruitcake, and my aunt's/grandma's boysenberry cobbler.

It was an awesome food season.  I hope yours was just as tasty.  Hopefully, I'll put up a post by next week and start to catch up.  Until then, Happy New Year.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Activism: Canned Lion Hunting

I am woefully behind on some of my posting, so here is one for the catching up list.  We had a very busy day this past March.  Down at the State Capitol, about a twenty minute drive for us, there were several activities going on.  SR, GR and I were with our homeschool group's teen group doing our version of The Amazing Race.  There were also two protests going on: one against fracking and the other against canned lion hunting.  GR and JK both had pre-planned to go to the lion one, but GR got caught up after the race, so just JK, G and I went to this protest.  Unfortunately, it was overshadowed by the thousands of people who showed up to protest against fracking, but we still managed to find the group.  Not that I was opposed to the anti-frackers - they just made it difficult to find the lion people.

What is canned lion hunting, you ask?  It takes place in South Africa, where people raise lions from cubs, feed them by hand, essentially taming them.  Then, when the lions are good and tame and unafraid of people, the handlers let high-paying "hunters" come in and shoot them in large pens, the "cans" if you will.  The day we went in March was an international day of protest, but I just checked their website, and there are ongoing events.  GR and JK made signs, which JK is holding by his side in the picture above.  Sacramento's small group of protesters marched around the capitol and tried to bring attention to this ghastly practice.  Check out the main website that talks about this at .  Maybe you can be a voice next year along with ours.

On a side note, our family is going to try and amp up our level of activism.  We used to be much more active, and if I can find a photo of a protest that we did against Proctor and Gamble years ago, I'll make a post about that, as well.  It's so easy to become complacent in our lifestyle, especially when your whole family is either vegan or supportive of you.  But, there are too many animals suffering in so many ways, that complacency cannot be accepted anymore.  I, for one, want to raise the next generation of activists for the animals.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Green Salad with Golden Beets and Raw Pumpkin Seeds

This salad is perfect for a hot summer day.  I got the beets at the Farmer's Market, and they were deeeelicoius!

Green Salad with Golden Beets and Raw Pumpkin Seeds


1 head Romaine lettuce, chopped
8 small or 4 medium to large golden beets
1 - 15oz. can garbanzo beans, drained
2 green onions, sliced
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds


Peel and quarter the beets, and boil for ten minutes.  Rinse under cold water, and slice into bite-sized pieces.  Add the lettuce, beets and rest of the ingredients into a large serving bowl.  Add your favorite vegan salad dressing.  Feeds five hungry vegans.  Simple and scrumptious!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Review: Organic Matcha from Kiss Me Organics

The good people at Kiss Me Organics sent me a code, so I could receive a free bag of their Organic Matcha off of Amazon, a value of $25.  For those of you who don't know what Matcha is, I didn't either.  It is powdered green tea, although the ingredients listed on the bag says "100% Organic Matcha."  So, now I've got to say this: I'm comin' atcha with Matcha!  Like that?  Then keep on reading for the review...

The Matcha is packaged in a sturdy, resealable bag and has four ounces of product.  The front of the bag boasts all the known benefits of consuming green tea, including energy, boosted metabolism, focus, skin health, and antioxidants.

  The back of the bag lists those benefits again with more detail.  They have the recommended daily dose as 1/2 to 1 teaspoon.  Since I'm not a big tea drinker, this powered form would work better for me.  They also suggest using it in lattes, smoothies and baking.  I don't drink lattes, but I do bake, and I do drink smoothies, so we are well on our way to ingesting some of this beneficial powder!

Here's what a spoonful of it looks like.  I dabbed my finger in and tasted it dry, and it tastes like...tea! 

First tester recipe up: Green tea cornbread muffins (recipe below), adjusting my Sweet Cornbread Muffins recipe.  Since I haven't seen any Matcha recipes, I wasn't sure how much of it to add to the recipe.  I made a dozen muffins, so I put in one tablespoon.  That worked out pretty well.  The texture of the muffins didn't change for the worse, and there was a slight tea taste to them.  There was just a slight green hue to them, but nothing adverse that would turn kiddos off to the idea of eating them, although JK did have to be assured I didn't sneak spinach into these like some recent Hidden-Veggies Brownies .  These are muffins I could see me making again. 

So, I made a goof when I decided to add Matcha to my Loaded Cinnamon Rolls recipe.  Since one tablespoon worked so well with the cornbread muffins, surely three tablespoons would work even better here, right?  Wrong!  Too much Matcha did not mix well into the flour mixture.  I would definitely keep it to one tablespoon.  Also, I was out of powdered sugar, so I couldn't do my regular glaze. Instead, I mixed equal parts raw sugar with cinnamon and sprinkled it on top of the rolls.  That was okay but not as good as the glaze.  I'll recreate the recipe below with the adjusted Matcha amount, and have both toppings as options.  As far as taste, again the flavor changed the rolls some, but not in a bad way. 

Finally, I made a shake and added the Matcha.  Here, I think the Matcha shined best.  My family's not used to expecting a green tea flavor in their baked goods, but they know that anything can happen in shakes, smoothies, and juices so they were the most accepting of this option.  The shake was excellent, and we felt even healthier drinking it.  I added one tablespoon (I learned my lesson!) to the blender, which made enough for five servings.  I'll include the recipe below.

Final thoughts: It feels good to add one  more healthy choice to our diets, and this is an easy way to do so.  Since I'm not such a big tea drinker, I can see me personally enjoying Matcha in our drinks.  Both SR and GR love tea, however, so they could drink regular green tea or have Matcha in their smoothies, too.  I think this powder is a good option to have in your pantry.  No complaints here.  See below for the recipes.

Green Tea Cornbread Muffins


Non-stick spray
1 and 1/2 cups flour
2/3 cups vegan sugar
1/2 cup corn meal
1 Tbs. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

1 Tbs. Matcha or green tea powder
1 and 1/4 cups almond milk
1/3 cup canola oil
3 Tbs. vegan margarine, melted


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a cupcake pan with non-stick spray. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, corn meal, baking powder, salt and green tea powder. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until well blended. Divide batter into the muffin wells. Bake for 20 minutes. Cool on wire rack. Makes about a dozen muffins. Feeds five hungry vegans. 

Green Tea Cinnamon Rolls



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
1 Tbs. Matcha or green tea powder
Flour for rolling
 Non-stick spray 

 5 Tbs. vegan margarine, melted and divided
1/4 cup vegan or raw sugar, divided
2 Tbs. ground cinnamon, divided

2 Tbs. ground cinnamon
2 Tbs. raw sugar
 2 cups powdered sugar
3 Tbs. and 1 milk


For the Dough:  In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water.  Let rest for ten minutes.  Combine the remaining dough ingredients in with the yeast/water mixture and mix well.  Cover bowl with a damp towel, and let rise for 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two large baking sheets with non-stick spray and set aside.  Dip your fist in some flour and punch down the dough.  Divide the dough into two large balls.  On a large, lightly floured area, put one of the dough balls, and sprinkle the top of it with flour.  Roll out to a large rectangle, roughly eight to nine inches wide and at least twelve inches long. 

For the Filling:  Spread half of the melted margarine on the first rolled out dough with a pastry brush.  Sprinkle half of the sugar over the margarine.  Top with one tablespoon of the cinnamon.  Make sure you spread and sprinkle as evenly as possible.  We want these to be yummy with every bite.  Starting at the short end, roll up the dough.  Cut into seven to eight pieces.  Lay them cut side down on one of the baking sheets.  Repeat with second ball of dough.  Bake for 25 minutes.  Set pans on baking rack to cool for about ten minutes before icing the rolls.

For the Icing:  For a non-traditional topping, you can whisk together the cinnamon with the sugar and sprinkle it on warm cinnamon rolls.  OR for a more traditional topping, you can make the icing.  Mix the sugar and soy milk together in a small bowl. With a spoon drizzle the icing over the rolls, making sure to cover them thoroughly.  Eat immediately.  You can freeze these as well; just don't put the icing on first. Reheat in oven, then ice them.  Makes fourteen to sixteen rolls.  Feeds five hungry, happy vegans.

Green Tea Mango Blueberry Ice Cream Shake


3 and 1/4 hemp milk
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 cup frozen mango chunks
1 cup vegan vanilla ice cream
1 Tbs. Matcha or green tea powder


Combine all ingredients in a blender, and blend until smooth.  Makes about five and a half cups, enough to quench five thirsty vegans.  Delicious!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Joe's Special with Beefless Strips

I know, I know, this is one more dish to add to my Joe's Special repertoire.   I made this sausage version in December.   I think I'm trying to recapture a magical time from my childhood.  Anyhow, you can see any of my other variations of this dish to know that I first had this with my father on long-distance bike trips.  He used ground beef, but I've changed it up any number of times.  Here's my latest version.  This is great by itself or served with pasta and fresh fruit on the side.

Joe's Special with Beefless Strips


2 Tbs. olive oil
2 pkgs. of Trader Joe's Beefless Strips or something similar
2-3 cups of quartered mushrooms
4-5 cups fresh spinach leaves, large ones torn

3 Tbs. soy sauce
4 to six drops liquid smoke


Heat oil in large pan over medium heat.  When hot, add the strips and mushrooms.  Cook for five to seven minutes, until the strips are browned and the mushrooms are softened.  Add the spinach, and cook for another five minutes, until it is wilted.  Add the soy sauce and liquid smoke, turn heat down to medium low, and cook for two to three minutes longer.  Serve by itself or over pasta with fresh fruit on the side. Feeds five hungry vegans.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Hidden-Veggies Brownies

Hello, and long time no see!  Where have you all been?  I'm sure it's you that's been away, am I right?  Anyhow, I wanted to put up this post before another major holiday came and went because I made these brownies for Easter.  (Did I just say that?  Easter?)  Yes, Easter!  Argh, anyways, I'm back, I'm back.  A few years ago, both my mom and SR gave me the same cookbook for my birthday.  I kept SR's because she inscribed hers, and traded Mom's in for something else.  Anyhow, it's by Jessica Seinfeld, ol' Jerry's wife, and she made a cookbook hiding pureed veggies in food for her kids, Deceptively Delicious.  I've tried making several of the recipes, and some have turned out "eh," and some have turned out "yikes!," and some have turned out "mmm."  I will share my veganized versions of the "mmm" ones with you.  I did get the idea for my Banana-Flax French Toast from her.  So, like I said, I've veganized these recipes and adjusted the ingredients to suit our tastes, etc.  One important note on these brownies, she says not to eat them warm; I will go so far as to say, eat them CHILLED.  They are a completely different flavor room temp versus chilled.  Yuck versus yum.  I brought these over to the family at Easter and told none of the relatives the secrets hidden within, and all they could taste was deliciousness and cocoa.  They were very surprised when they found out these were healthy!  Yeah!  Enjoy, and I hope to be more regular here, without Miralax!

  Hidden-Veggies Brownies.  These are the brownies cut into 24 squares, and they are huge.  You can easily make 48 squares and be satisfied.  Serve them chilled!

Hidden-Veggies Brownies


Non-stick spray
8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate baking squares
2 cups of carrot puree (about 4 or 5 carrots steamed then pureed)
2 cups of spinach puree (about 8 or so cups spinach steamed then pureed)
2 cups brown sugar, packed
1 cup cocoa powder
2 Tbs. margarine, room temp or softened
2 Tbs. vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 and 1/2 Tbs. baking powder
1 tsp. salt


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9x13 baking pan with the non-stick spray, and set aside.  Melt the chocolate in the microwave, stirring frequently, being careful not to burn it.  In a large bowl or large pot (you'll need something large!), whisk together the chocolate, carrots, spinach, brown sugar, cocoa, margarine and vanilla.  Whisk until smooth.  You can use a hand mixer on low, if you wish.  Add the flour baking powder and salt, and stir with a wooden spoon until well blended.  Pour the batter in the pan, and bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Cool completely on a cooling rack.  Can cut into 24 large squares or 48 smaller ones.  Must be chilled before being enjoyed.  Do not eat at room temperature in order to appreciate the full-deception.  Kids and grandparents alike will love these!  Feeds well more than five hungry vegans.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Graham Cracker Bar

I made a graham cracker bar for dessert for my family, and they all loved it!  G said it wasn't mustache-friendly, but that didn't stop him from chowing down.  I made this once before, but it was a few years ago.  The response was so positive, we'll have to do this again sooner rather than later.  You can look for Nabisco Original graham crackers for a vegan choice, or my store (Raley's) has their own chocolate graham, which is vegan.  Either way, everyone got to top their crackers just the way they wanted them, and it was fun to boot!

 Graham Cracker Bar:  Chocolate graham crackers (Raley's brand), homemade chocolate and vanilla frostings, vegan chocolate chips, two type of sugar crystals and white sprinkles, shredded sweetened coconut, bananas and strawberries.  The crackers had corn syrup, and the pink sugar crystals had coloring; other than that everything else was natural and free of colors and artificial flavors.

Here are my two crackers and my quota of sweetness for a month!  On the left, a cracker is smothered with chocolate frosting and has bananas and strawberries and white sprinkles.  On the right, a cracker is smothered with vanilla frosting and has coconut, chocolate chips and more white sprinkles.  Flossing is a must to get rid of those sugar bugs!

Graham Cracker Bar


Vegan Graham Crackers
Various toppings - We used: 
Homemade chocolate frosting
Homemade vanilla frosting
Vegan chocolate chips
Pink sugar crystals
Blue sugar crystals
White non-pareil sprinkles
Shredded, sweetened coconut
Chopped bananas
Chopped strawberries


Lay everything out in a fun, accessible way.  Grab a cracker, and get going!  Feeds five hungry vegans in this house!  Yum.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

BBQ Tofu with Scallions and Red Bells

This is a fun way to change up a tofu dinner.  With barbecue sauce and a couple of vegetables, your family can have a complete meal served over brown rice.  I usually call scallions green onions, but I wanted to fancy them up, since they're in the title.  As far as the barbecue sauce, I just recommend a natural one, free of yucky ingredients.  I bought mine at the 99 cent store!  Enjoy this simple meal!

BBQ Tofu with Scallions and Red Bells


2 Tbs. olive oil
3 - 14 oz. pkgs. water-packed, extra-firm tofu, drained and cubed
1 red bell pepper, julienned into 1 and 1/2 inch to 2 inch strips
3 scallions, ends trimmed, cut into 1 inch lengths
1 and 1/2 cups of your favorite barbecue sauce

Brown rice made according to package directions


In a large pan, heat the oil over medium high heat.  When hot, add the tofu.  Cook for 20 minutes, stirring every few minutes, until somewhat browned.  Turn heat down to medium, if tofu is cooking too quickly.  When tofu is browned, make sure heat is at medium, and add the scallions, red bell pepper, and sauce.  Cook for another five minutes, stirring frequently.  Serve over brown rice.  Simple and yummy.  Feeds five hungry vegans.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Banana-Flax French Toast

This latest recipe is an alternative to my existing French Toast recipe.  Both are yummy, and while the first one offers the health benefits of nutritional yeast flakes (maybe I should put that in its title!), this one offers flax seed.  Good for you French toast?  You betcha!  See below for the easy to make batter.

Banana-Flax French Toast


14-16 thick slices of your favorite bread
2 cups soy milk
1 banana, pureed or mashed well
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbs. ground flax seed

Canola oil for frying


In a medium bowl, whisk together the soy milk, banana, cinnamon and flax seed.  You really don't want any large lumps of banana, so make sure it's mashed well before whisking.  Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large pan over medium heat.  When hot, dredge bread slices into the batter and add to the pan.  Cook on each side three to five minutes, or until they are golden brown.  Repeat with the oil until the batter is used up.  Serve with your favorite syrup.  Good!  Feeds five hungry vegans.  Any extras can be frozen and reheated in the microwave.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Snowy Bananas and Strawberries

Here is a very simple salad to welcome those warmer days, and one in which we can also reap the sweet harvest of strawberries already at our Farmer's Markets.  Enjoy!

Snowy Bananas and Strawberries


3 bananas, sliced into rings
3 cups of coarsely chopped, fresh strawberries
1 cup of shredded, sweetened coconut


Toss all the ingredients together right before serving.  Enjoy right away.  Feeds five hungry vegans.  So satisfying!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Dedicated to Charlene

This has been a hard for year for us and our kitties so far.  We lost sweet Charlene on Friday morning.  We all could feel she had only a few hours left when we loved on her late Thursday night.  GR took her to bed with her, and when she woke up at five, she could tell that Charlene was gone.  I was awake and in the living room shortly after that and saw the two of them snuggled together on the recliner.  GR had been calling Charlene her bro, and so SR gave her Barney Stinson's Bro code on GR's birthday .  GR had read the first half of the book to Charlene that day, and on Friday morning she read her the second half.  It touched my mother-heart, and not only did I cry for Charlene, but I cried for the loss my children would have.  In a few minutes I woke up SR and JK, and we all said our last good-byes to her.  G was already at work.

Charlene and a large male cat that G and I called her brother showed up on our lawn about seventeen years ago and never left.  We named her brother Chuck, and he was definitely her protector.  She has always been docile and timid, and so they were the perfect pair.  We used to have an orange tabby that we had tamed from being feral, and we thought their resemblances were enough that they could have been his offspring.  They were inside and outside at first, but G (and GR) are allergic to cats, so eventually they became outside-only cats.  One day Chuck was under one of our bushes, dead, and we have no idea why, but poisoning came to mind.  Shortly after that, Sparkly showed up, and the ladies grew old together.  Whereas Sparkly never liked the indoors, Charlene was most grateful a few years ago, when she was brought back inside permanently.  G and GR are still allergic, but everyone could see that she loved being indoors.  (Now, G has completely given up, and so Cleopatra and Dennis are luxuriating indoors.)  She adjusted quickly to the dogs and quickly became litter-box trained.  She would pick a favorite spot and not move from it for months, except for necessities.  Then, she would find a new spot.  Lately, it's been in GR's and JK's room.  She is buried next to Sparkly in our garden; JK added a toy, like he did with Sparkly, and GR put in a copy of the Bro Code's cover. SR commented to me yesterday that all her childhood pets, the ones that she had when she was little, are all gone now.  I thought of that too, and it saddened both of us.  We humans are sure lucky when we have such wonderful non-human companions.  See below for some of the pictures taken of Charlene this year.

Here's she's sharing Mindy's rump with Dennis.  Yes, Dennis - I'll get to that in another post.

This time they are sharing Abby.

Here GR has made aluminum foil protective head gear for her and her bro to keep the government from controlling them and finding out their thoughts!  See, GR even made Charlene her very own ear holes in her hat.

She was definitely a sweetie-pie and has long-reminded me of my childhood cat, Squeaky, that I had for seventeen years.  Charlene was gentle and accepting and so easy to love and so easy to miss.  We love you, Charlene.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Strawberry Cream Cheese Tart

This is a recipe that I came across and veganized, tweaked, adjusted measurements, and rearranged, as is my usual way, to get the end result I want.  And...that result is delicious!  Like some of my other desserts, this does have a few steps, but they are not overwhelming.  Just go steady like the tortoise, and before you know it, you'll be enjoying a slice of this wonderful treat.  Just a note: I find that using the freshest juices and peels possible creates the best flavor; if you've got fresh citrus, use them first before other sources.  Of course, it goes without saying, that the best flavor ever for this tart will come from the freshest strawberries.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Tart

A beautiful slice of said tart, mm-mmm!

Strawberry Cream Cheese Tart



1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbs. vegan sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
6 oz. vegan stick margarine, chilled
6 Tbs. fresh orange juice (from fresh oranges, if possible)


2 pkgs. Tofutti cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup vegan sugar
1 Tbs. freshly grated orange rind
12 - 14 strawberries, thinly sliced lengthwise


3 Tbs. strawberry preserves
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice (from a fresh lemon, if possible)



In a food processor with the pastry blade, put in the flour, sugar and salt.  Process for a few seconds to mix.  Cut up the margarine into chunks, and add those to the dry mix.  Process again, until you get a grainy consistency.  With the machine running, pour the orange juice through the feeder hole.  Your dough should clump together into a sort of ball in about a minute.  Take this ball out, shape into a disc, wrap in wax paper, and chill for ten minutes.  (Alternately, you can use a pastry cutter or fork, if you don't have a food processor.)  Take dough out of fridge and place between two large squares of wax paper.  Roll dough out to a circle about thirteen or so inches in diameter, large enough to cover your spring-form tart pan and sides.  Note:  My pan is 11.5 inches; if yours is smaller you can adjust your circle and even your dough amount, if you wish.  Take top sheet of wax paper off dough, and gently flip the dough over your pan.  Press down to cover the bottom and sides completely.  If you have bare patches, and you have extra dough in other areas, take the extra dough to cover the patches.   Anything else that is extra, you can fold down into the pan, or take a sharp knife and trim the top of the pan to remove excess dough.  Prick the bottom of the crust several times with a fork.  Chill for 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line the crust with wax paper, and layer a pound of dried beans on it, making sure the entire bottom is covered.  Bake for eight minutes.  Take out the tart from the oven.  Remove the beans into a container for future use, and remove the wax paper as well.  Bake crust for another eight minutes.  Place on cooling rack to cool completely.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese, sugar and orange rind, until well combined, about two minutes on low to medium speed.  Pour the mixture into the cooled crust.  Bake for 40 minutes.  Cool completely on cooling rack.  When crust is cool, release the sides of the tart pan, and place tart on serving dish.  Layer your strawberry slices on the crust in a circular pattern, starting from the outside and working your way in.  With any extra slices you may have at the end, fill in any gaps you see.  You want the top of the tart to be screaming strawberries!  


Heat the strawberry preserves and lemon juice in a small pan over medium low heat, until well-mixed and runny.  You can strain this through a mesh sieve to leave out any lemon bits.  With a basting brush, paint the glaze all over the strawberries.  Chill for at least one hour before serving.  So good, and it feeds five hungry vegans for a couple of desserts!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Classic Avocado, Cream Cheese and Sprouts Sandwich

When you go into a deli and look at their vegan or vegetarian sandwich choices, inevitably you'll see a version of this.  Why spend the six bucks per sandwich when you can make these at home?  Anyways, the chances of finding a deli with vegan cream cheese are probably 1000 to 1 or worse.  Served with a veggie stir-fry, it makes for a complete meal.

Classic Avocado, Cream Cheese and Sprouts Sandwich


Your favorite bread on hand - we used sourdough
1 tub of Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese or your favorite vegan cream cheese
3 avocados, mashed with a fork
Salt and pepper to taste 
1 cup of alfalfa sprouts


Spread a thick layer of cream cheese on one slice of bread.  On top of that, spread a couple heaping tablespoons of mashed avocado.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to your liking, and top with a layer of sprouts.  Add the top bread slice and bite.  Mm-mmm, taste the classicness of it all!  Feeds five hungry vegans.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Mini Tostadas

A great alternative to the big tostada salads - like my Big Soy Tostadas or my Big Bean Tostadas - are mini tostadas.  I like to buy several kinds of toppings, and we all just build our own.  At this point, I offer classic Mexican toppings, but I may branch out into adventurous kinds.  When I do, I'll let you know.  You can buy these flat, small shells near the traditional tortillas in most stores or in Mexican markets. This makes an easy and fun lunch or dinner for adults and kids alike.

Mini Tostadas


Small, flat, crunchy tostada shells
Vegetarian refried beans
Chopped Romaine lettuce
Chopped tomatoes
Sliced black olives
Hot sauce


Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Place several tostada shells on a baking sheet and warm them up in the oven for ten minutes.  Meanwhile, heat the beans in a pot over medium heat until warm.  Remove shells from oven, and top them with the beans and the other toppings.  Measurements are to your personal liking.  Just pick up and crunch away!  Feeds five hungry vegans in our home.

Friday, February 28, 2014

GR's 14th Birthday!

GR shares her birthday with President Lincoln, so whenever you have the day off for that day, think of her!  As usual, she didn't want to have a party, instead picking things to do on her day with her family.  It was a great day, and I am so blessed to have her.

We started off the day by going to the historical Railroad Museum, which she just loves.  If you're ever in Sacramento, this is a must-see.  We were home for lunch and presents, including new booties for her pup, Mindy, and...

...cake!  And, yes, we can't seem to stop having our  Black Tie Cheesecake .  Seriously, you have to make this.  I also allowed myself to have one Oreo Birthday Cake cookie.  Not a fan of processed cookies, but GR wanted them, so I had to have one, too.  After lunch, we watched The Great Gatsby.  She is a  major fan of the story and has read the book several times.  I got her the movie for Christmas, and she decided that day to save the first viewing of it for her birthday.  The wait was well worth it for her.  Now, her movie goes well with her new Gatsby poster that little brother, JK, gave her for her birthday.

A couple of hours later, my parents joined us for dinner at Gatsby's Diner!  Yes, we have a Gatsby's Diner in town, and GR made up her mind that's where she wanted to have her birthday dinner months ago.  I looked online at their website - - and realized that although they had several vegetarian options, there was nothing vegan but their side salad.  GR said that was fine with her. What she didn't know was that I went there in person and spoke with the co-owner, David, explained that my daughter was a Great Gatsby nut and would they make us a special dinner?  David graciously agreed to do so.  GR doesn't ask for much, so I wanted to do this for her.  Their buns and breads aren't vegan, and they had no pasta on the menu.  But, we agreed that he would make us a special pasta dish for that night.  He went out and bought pasta just for our family.  See our delicious dishes below.

Believe it or not, this huge salad is their side salad!  This was SO good; I can't remember having a side salad that tasted this good.  I could taste the fresh thyme that was sprinkled on.  Loved it.

I kept our dinner a secret from GR; as far as she knew, we were just going to have the salads.  But, being kids, she and her siblings saw fries on the menu, so we ordered two batches to share.  Tasty as well.

Here is my huge portion of pasta.  He put grilled portabello mushrooms just on mine because I would be the only one appreciating them.  It was so much that I brought most of this home with me.  Everything was excellent, including the service.  We can't go back on a regular basis, just because of the lack of choices, but for this one night, they made it super special.  It was a great surprise for GR when he brought out the pasta.

Here's GR enjoying her dinner in the restaurant of her dreams.  Happy Birthday, dear GR!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Tofu, Brussels Sprouts and Peanut Stir-fry

This is one of those classic, throw-it-together meals, using up leftovers that turns out fantastic enough to become a real recipe worth repeating.  With just a few ingredients, this makes a complete meal for our family.

Tofu, Brussels Sprouts and Peanut Stir-fry


2 Tbs. canola oil
3 -  12 to 14 oz. pkgs, water-packed tofu, drained and cubed in 1/2 inch squares
2 cups of Brussels sprouts halves
2 cups of kale, chopped
2 cups of cooked or leftover medium pasta - I used bow ties
2 Tbs. sesame oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 cup peanuts, coarsely chopped


Heat canola oil over medium high heat in a large pan.  When hot, add the tofu cubes.  Cook for fifteen minutes, stirring occasionally, until browned.  Reduce heat to medium and add the Brussels sprouts.  Cook for another ten minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the kale, pasta, sesame oil and soy sauce.  Stir well and cook for five minutes, until kale is just wilted.  Add the peanuts.  Turn off heat and stir. Serve hot. Feeds five hungry vegans.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

G's Birthday Food! 2014

Another two weeks and another birthday.  My birthday was on the seventh, and G's was on Tuesday, two weeks later.  And...GR's is on Feb. 12th, but then it will be birthday-quiet until July when I'm slammed with SR's, JK's, and my dad's, followed by my mom's August second.  Whew!.  But, I ramble.  G gets to pick his birthday food, just like the Blessings, and the veteran readers of my blog will not be surprised by his dinner choice, yawn.  But, he loves it, I love him, and so it's all good.  He chose to have a quiet day at home after opening his pressies.  Immediately afterwards, we ate the first half of cake, he had a second slice in the afternoon, and then we had more later.  See the pics and the links below.

 My Pineapple Upside Down Cake has become a huge hit for my family.  As a matter of fact, we are heading over to my parents for dinner tonight to celebrate his birthday with them, and another one is baking in the oven as I type this.  My mom has never had a vegan version of this cake and wanted to give it a try.  Who are we to argue?  

For dinner he wanted slow-cooked black-eyed peas, fried potatoes with onions and garlic, and cornbread.  I made two types of cornbread: my Sweet Corn Muffins for the kiddos and I.  I baked them in my doughnut pans for fun, and I baked his Ozark Cornbread in a star pan 'cause he's my star, aww.

Anyways, it was a nice day.  Keep a lookout for another birthday post a couple of days after February 12th!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Dedicated to Sparkly

Our beautiful kitty Sparkly passed away yesterday.  She showed up on our lawn about thirteen years ago and never left.  She was a tough kitty, preferring to stay outdoors and pick fights rather than being pampered indoors.  She tolerated brief visits indoors but was always grateful when she was let out to enjoy the sunshine and grass.  Everyone thought she was a Scottish Fold because of her ears, but they were just deformed in fights.  She hated all other animals but loved her people friends and family.  Over the last several months, we could tell that she was aging rapidly and brought her permanently indoors.  She eventually adjusted to being cared for around the clock and was surrounded by her loving family and held in our arms as she took her last breath in our living room.  Her final resting place is in our beautiful garden area.

We loved you and will miss you, sweet Sparkly.

Love from your family.

Friday, January 17, 2014

French Toast with Nutritional Yeast

There's no reason to give up delicious French toast for breakfast just because you're vegan.  I've been making this for years, and it's a Saturday morning favorite.

French Toast


2 cups soy milk
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 Tbs. nutritional yeast flakes
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbs. cinnamon
Canola oil for frying
Several slices of thick bread - we use French bread, but you can use any thick-sliced bread you like


In a medium bowl, whisk together the first six ingredients (soy milk through cinnamon).  Heat a tablespoon of canola oil in a large pan over medium heat.  When the oil is hot, dredge a slice of bread at a time into the batter mixture and lay in the pan.  Cook for three minutes on one side and two to three minutes on the other side.  Repeat with other bread slices and oil, as necessary.  Should make twelve to fifteen pieces of French toast.  Serve with your favorite syrup.  My recipe for homemade maple syrup is coming!  Serves five hungry vegans. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Me Birthday Grub, Yum!

My birthday was on Tuesday, and it was a great day.  The first surprise was that G took the day off work.  After opening presents, I ran to the local feed store to pick up some scratch for later... This may get boring year after year, but my family took me to Queen Sheba once again!  It's a local Ethiopian restaurant that offers an all-you-can-eat lunch buffet, so good!!  Below is my delicious plate of food.

 My birthday lunch at Queen Sheba.  

After lunch, we went to a large park that has a huge duck pond.  I brought along the scratch and was ready to overload the duckies and geese with good food.  If you don't know, feeding them bread is not good for them.  Anyhow, I didn't think about my birthday being in Winter, so the birds were scant, but those that were there had a nice surprise.  Later the kids played at the park.  We went home and rested until dinner, which was just a simple spaghetti with leftovers.

My beautiful slice of Black Tie Cheesecake

GR made my Black Tie Cheesecake for dessert.  But, we really had a piece before dinner and a piece after, ahem.  She made it at Thanksgiving, too.  If you haven't tried this, yet, you should give it a go.  It's pretty darn good!  So, my birthday was quiet and spent with my family, just the way I like it.  Normally, my folks are included, but their colds precluded their company.  No new recipes here, just a rundown of a good day.  :-)

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Maple-Pecan Baked Brussels Sprouts and Butternut Squash and Christmas, 2013

I was feeling guilty about blogging about Christmas so far after the date and was prepared to lament about all the sicknesses I've either endured personally or as a motherly nurse.  But, then as I was catching up on reading the blogs, I discovered that lots of people are posting belatedly.  So, I feel better.  Although, I do really wish I had my Christmas post in the same year that I ate the dish.  Ah, well.

I wanted to come up with something seasonal and savory to bring to the family potluck, and I came up with this baked dish (that took longer to bake than anticipated), consisting basically of all the ingredients listed in the title.  Makes it easy, doesn't it? It turned out very well, and if I end up tweaking it in the future, I'll edit this post, but it's pretty darn good for now!  Buuuuuuttt, because we were all sick, we ended up staying home and not joining the big family for dinner.  Aaaand, my parents didn't come over for my traditional breakfast spread.  It was a very different Christmas indeed, but I still tried to make it as special as I could.  I made some of my breakfast dishes anyways, and we had a nice dinner, albeit simpler. 

Here's what we had for breakfast:

GR and JK made the Gingerbread house again
Pineapple Upside Down Cake
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
Tiger Balls
SR made the Soft Ginger Cookies
Loaded Cinnamon Rolls 
Breakfast Links
Orange Juice
Hot Apple Cider

For dinner all I could muster was:

Maple-Pecan Baked Brussels Sprouts and Butternut Squash
A kid-friendly spaghetti dish

Our "scant" breakfast table

We also managed to drag ourselves to the fire station again to deliver our annual Christmas treats.  They remember us every year now.  GR was too sick to come, so it was just SR, JK and me.

SR and JK are sicker than they look.  But, we just love this tradition!

Maple-Pecan Baked Brussels Sprouts and Butternut Squash
(taken with my new camera as of that morning; not sure if I like the posted date on the pic, but you can see I took it on Christmas!)

Maple-Pecan Baked Brussels Sprouts and Butternut Squash


4 cups Brussels sprouts that have been halved
5 cups butternut squash that have been diced into half inch to an inch cubes
1 and 1/4 cup chopped pecans
1 cup 100% maple syrup


Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Toss all the ingredients together in a large casserole dish.  Bake uncovered for one hour, stirring at the halfway mark.  That's it!  So easy.  Feeds five hungry vegans.