Archive | January, 2012

Day 18 – Time for A Treat

24 Jan


Song of the Post – Please Don’t Go by Mike Posner

Hey gang!  It’s been a long month.  There are vegetables everywhere I look, whole grains galore, and my cupboard is full of every type of canned bean imaginable.  Seems like what we need is a treat, am I right?

Since I’m going home tomorrow (my brother comes back from South Korea on Thursday!!!) my efforts have been focused on using up all my fresh produce.  The spinach is gone, bell peppers caput, and now the only thing that remains is a small, inviting sweet potato.  It’s basically begging, “make me into something sweet!”

After a few Pinterest searches I came across this lovely Sweet Potato Biscuit recipe.  Substitute milk for coconut milk and butter for vegan butter, and we’ve got ourselves a winner.

Can I tell you a secret?  These are the tastiest biscuits you’ll ever try.  Not too sweet, and perfectly fluffy.  Now what are you waiting for, go make some!  Don’t forget to eat these biscuits warm, with a generous amount of butter on top.  YUM.



Sweet Potato Biscuits

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup mashed cooked sweet potatoes
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter (vegan butter), softened
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons milk (coconut milk), depending on the moisture of the potatoes

To cook sweet potatoes, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain and mash. Set aside to slightly cool.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a separate, large bowl, mix the sweet potatoes and butter. Add the flour mixture to the potato mixture and mix to make a soft dough. Add milk, a tablespoon at a time, to mixture and continue to cut in. Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead very gently until dough comes together, about five or six times. Shape into a disk, and pat to an even 1-inch thickness. With a floured 3-inch biscuit cutter, cut out biscuits and place on prepared baking sheet. Brush tops with melted butter. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until golden brown.

(Before the oven)




Day 17 – The Elusive Veggie Burger

24 Jan


Song of the Post -Blue Jeans by Lana Del Rey

That’s right y’all!  Veggie Burgers!

Over the course of this month I’ve seen about 100 recipes for veggie burgers.  They all seemed too simple, too weird, or too complicated.  In my opinion, stuff like oatmeal should not be in burgers.

Well – its official, this is the best veggie burger recipe ever.  Crisp, perfect consistency and an absolutely excellent flavor.  The sweet potatoes make the mixture creamy, and the mashed black beans thicken it up.  Fluffly cooked quinoa, corn and onions add variety to every bite.  (Please ignore the fact that these burgers look really ugly.)

This recipe comes from, but I ended up adapting it to work with the supplies on hand.  The best addition was jalapeños!  They jack up the flavor and make the burger a little more interesting.  Can you tell that I’m in love with this veggie burger?  It’s fabulous, and I’m so glad the recipe yielded WAY too many burgers.  I ❤ leftovers!

Without a doubt, these little guys will wow you.  Use this recipe as a guide, and feel free to throw in whatever other ingredients you think would work.  Happy eating!



Sweet Potato Black Bean Veggie Burgers

  • 15oz black beans, drained + rinsed
  • 3 cup cubed sweet tater, cooked + skin on [~1.5lbs]
  • 1/2 cup frozen or fresh corn
  • 2/3 cup finely chopped onion [1/2 medium onion]
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 small jalapeño pepper, finely chopped (remove seeds if you want spicy!)
  • 1/2 – 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 6 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • black pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp coriander (I used turmeric)
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne [optional]
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Preheat your oven to 375 once you finish cooking the quinoa and potato.

Mash half of the beans in a bowl until paste-like.  Add in the rest of the beans and give a very light stir/mash to combine.

In a large bowl, mash the sweet tater.  Each cube should be mashed, but you don’t want it creamy.  Stir in the salt, pepper, oregano, coriander, chili powder, cayenne and olive oil, until combined.  Mix in the onion, garlic, corn, black beans, quinoa, sunflower seeds, and ground oats, until just combined.  Taste, and adjust seasonings to your liking.

Form into balls, between your hands and flatten into 1/2”-3/4” thick patties.  This should make 8 medium/large patties.  Place on a pan lined with parchment paper (or lightly greased pan) and bake on each side for 15 min, flipping once, half-way through.

Notes: If you want to refrigerate or freeze them, let fully cool on a cooling rack.  Place in a sealed container for the fridge, or wrap in saran, then foil, then in a bag for the freezer.  If reheating a frozen burger, let it thaw completely.  Re-heat in a greased pan, over medium heat for 3 – 5 minutes per side, until hot throughout.

To pan cook – Heat a pan to medium and lightly grease.  Cook on each side for 5 – 8 minutes on each side, until golden brown.

For the grill – Bake burgers for 15 minutes on one side, flip burgers once and bake another 10 minutes.





Day 15 – Birthday Time!

22 Jan


Song of the Post – Head over Heels by Tears for Fears

Hey y’all! Yesterday was my birthday, so obviously I didn’t cook anything! I did, however, eat some delicious Ethiopian food (vegetarian combo plate, yes please) and I’d like to share with you how excellent it was.

For my vegan-friendly birthday dinner Nikki suggested Queen of Sheba, and I was immediately on board!  If you haven’t tried Ethiopian, I highly recommend going for the food and the experience.  They serve each dish with injera bread, which looks kind of like a fluffy pancake.  Then, you scoop up bites of meat and veggies with pieces of the bread.  Who doesn’t love eating with their hands every once and a while?

Queen of Sheba, located in the Flour Mill near downtown Spokane.  This place is amazing!  Also, the wait staff is very helpful when deciding what to order.  Just tell them what you feel like having, beef, poultry or vegetables, and they’ll let you know which dishes to pick.

Here are a few fun photos from the evening.  Side note: best birthday ever!  We had a party, my friends’ band played and covered a Tears for Fears song for me.  YAY!




Chocolate flower! Mmmmmm.

Day 13 – Experimentation is Key! (Featuring Sloppy Joes)

18 Jan


Song of the Post – Informer by Snow

Oh, what’s up buckets upon buckets of snow?


Yeah, looks like it’s getting pretty chilly out there.  Walking places is no bueno these days with all the giant snowflakes coming at my eyeballs.  Driving is not an option, since A. my car won’t start and B. its slick as heck!  Guess my only option is to stay at home and try to warm up.  But I wonder… however could I achieve such warmth in this snowy wonderland?

I have a great idea!  Curry!

Here’s a painfully simple recipe I found for curry chickpeas.  It comes from an extremely helpful website called Budget Bytes.  So far, I’m in love with this blog!  It informs you just how inexpensive her recipes are, down to each serving.  Nice!

So, midway through cooking this delicious dish I decided that quick curried chickpea soup sounded better.  To make this happen, I added the same amount of water called for but didn’t simmer it as long.  With that discovery fueling my ingenuity, I threw in two tomatoes (chopped up), one cup of frozen corn and a few handfuls of spinach.  I’m very happy with how this chickpea chili curry turned out!  Scrumptious, spicy and filling; baby that’s my kind of meal.

Quick Curried Chickpeas

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 half medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1/2 can tomato sauce
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 heaping cup spinach
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tbsp sriracha (optional)
  • 1 tsp red chili flakes (optional)

Cook the onion and garlic in a large pot with olive oil over medium heat until softed.

Add chickpeas to the pot, as well as the tomato sauce, tomatoes, corn, water and curry powder. Stir until everything is evenly mixed. Bring the mixture up to a simmer over medium heat.

While the chick peas are simmering, rinse the spinach. Roughly chop the leaves and add them to the pot. Give everything a stir and continue to simmer until the sauce has reduced to a soupy or thick consistency (about 20 minutes total). Stir the pot every few minutes to prevent the sauce from burning and sticking to the bottom.



This next recipe is my treasure, my knight in shining armor of meals.  The very first moment I saw this online, I knew I had to make it.  There are about 1 million ingredients, but dedication and patience have finally brought me to this delightful meal.

Experimentation also had a huge role in creating this meal.  The first ingredient on the list is TVP, or for those who don’t speak veganese, textured vegetable protein.  I opted out of buying an eight dollar bag of TVP, since I haven’t seen any other recipes that call for it, and chose to use the remaining half of a firm block of tofu.  Wary as I was, I figured tofu was a low-maintenance ingredient that would pick up the overall flavor of the mix.  This assumption turned out to be true, and the tofu was a crumbly, almost ground-beef like texture alongside the variety of veggies.

But wait – there’s more!  You see, I went to the store with one mission – obtain sweet potatoes to use for sloppy joes.  I rushed home, peeled and boiled my sweet potato, grinning at how prepared I was.  Then, I checked the recipe.  Alas, there was no sweet potato to be found.  This did not stop me!  I added half of a large SP to the sloppy joe mix near the end of its sautéing.  Let me assure you, the results were stellar.  Moral of the story: feel free to add whatever sounds good!  Next time I’m chucking in some eggplant, or maybe zucchini if I’m feeling wild.

With a swipe of stone ground mustard (I don’t have veganiase yet) and handful of crisp spinach, this hot sandwich is ready for you to chow down on.  Enjoy!



Garden Veggie Sloppy Nellys 

(as adapted from Healthy Happy Life)
makes 6 burgers

  • burger buns, warmed in oven

Sloppy Filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups TVP or 1 firm block tofu, crumbled
  • 1 Tbsp tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp maple or agave syrup
  • 14 ounce can of fire roasted tomatoes, crushed
  • 14 ounces water
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 3/4 cup onion, diced
  • 1 1/4 cups green bell pepper, diced
  • 3/4 cup mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/2 jalapeno, diced (use seeds for spicier flavor)
  • 2 Tbsp vegan buttery spread
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp dried parsley flakes
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled, diced, boiled and mashed a bit (optional)
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke (optional – adds smokiness)
  • 3 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast (optional – adds savory flavor) *I highly recommend it
  • salt/pepper to taste (I like a heavy hand of fine pepper)

Add the vegan butter and oil to a med-high x-large nonstick skillet.  Add onions, bell pepper, mushrooms to pan. Sauté until onions turn translucent.

Add in the tomato paste, water and TVP (or crumbled tofu).  Stir until TVP absorbs liquid and thins paste (if using tofu, stir for a few minutes). Now you may add in the remaining ingredients.

Turn heat to medium and sauté for about 5 minutes until the ingredients become flavorful and the mixture thickens well. Add nutritional yeast and liquid smoke as desired. Salt and pepper to taste.

Fill buns with sloppy mix – slather buns with vegenaise or other condiments – and maybe a few leaves of fresh spinach or romaine for extra green flavor. Serve hot.



[Not the cutest thing I’ve ever cooked – but DANG it is tasty.]


Day 11 – Tortilla Casserole & Almond Cheeze

16 Jan


Song of the Post – Municipality by Real Estate

Happy MLK Day!

Martin Luther King day has a special place in my heart.  My brother’s birthday is January 15th, and it was so unbelievably cool to have the Monday following his birthday off from school.  So now, a decade or so later, I still think of being so psyched to play in the snow with my little brother.

With those cozy thoughts in mind, let us dive into a warm and toasty meal!

My original aspiration for dinner night with the guys was lofty.  I’ve been craving a big juicy burger ever since day 1 of this vegan challenge, so I suggested homemade veggie burgers.  Upon realizing I had absolutely none of the ingredients necessary, I switched to a much more low-key recipe: Tortilla Casserole.  Also, when I showed up with to the guys’ house I couldn’t find the recipe online – it was bookmarked on my laptop but nowhere to be found on the world wide web!  Overall, it’s pretty difficult to mess up a black bean/tex mex casserole.  It turned out excellent, without the dang recipe!

So, this is the original recipe from  I added sautéed onions and mushrooms to the mix.  The result was a fantastic, low maintenance casserole perfect for any spontaneous get-together.  Also, when the fellas were dressing up the casserole with cheese, Stephen surprised me with a stash of almond cheez!  My meal was indeed vegan, and I lived happily ever after!

We all enjoyed this dish very much, and I hope you do too!



Super Easy Tortilla Casserole

  • One 16-ounce can pinto or pink beans, drained and rinsed
  • One 16-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • One 16-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • One 4-ounce can chopped mild green chilies (optional)
    or 1 to 2 small hot fresh chilis, seeded and minced
  • 2 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 1 cup crimini mushrooms, diced small
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 2 scallions, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili flakes
  • 10 corn tortillas
  • 1 1/2 cups grated nondairy Monterey Jack, cheddar, or jalapeño cheese
  • Salsa for topping
  • Vegan sour cream for topping, optional

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Sautee onions and mushrooms until soft.

Combine both kinds of beans, tomatoes, chilies, corn, scallions, cumin, and oregano in a mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly.

Lightly oil a wide, 2-quart casserole dish and layer as follows: 5 tortillas, overlapping one another; half of the bean mixture; half of the cheese. Repeat layer, adding the onion mushroom mixture on top.

Bake the casserole for 15 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly. Let stand for a minute or two, then cut into wedges or squares to serve. Pass around salsa and optional vegan sour cream to top each serving.


Do not be alarmed!  The white cheese is provolone, and the carrot-looking stuff is actually almond cheez.  It didn’t taste like much, but I was happy to be included in the cheese gang!

Days 9 & 10 – All Around the World

13 Jan



Song of the Post – Portrait in Black and Blue by King Krule

Hello to all! I hope everyone’s long weekend is off to an amazing start.

Once my conquering-tofu high subsided, I turned to my newly vegan-ized Pinterest page. It was time to start experimenting again! I searched high and low for the perfect recipe (read: one that lacks crazy veg ingredients) and decided on an incredibly flavorful one that would warm me up. Tortilla soup! This particular version includes all types of vegetables, creating an absolutely beautiful and colorful meal. The variety of veggies also keeps this soup from being monotonous – every bite is different. Yellow and red peppers, green celery, fresh cut tomatoes and corn… my mouth is watering just thinking about it! Next time I have to cook for someone, I’m pulling out this recipe.

Another obvious addition to this dish is tortilla chips! After five weeks (when I’m not on this anti-flour diet) I’ll be sure to whip up some tortilla strips. For now, I’m perfectly content with just this piping hot bowl of goodness.

Notes: I switched out zucchini for mushrooms and threw in a coarsely chopped tomato – it did not disappoint. I also added sriracha to the list of ingredients, because I live for spicy!

Tortilla Soup

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cups chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 ear fresh corn (or half cup – 1 cup frozen corn)
  • 1/2 cup green onion, chopped
  • 3 tbsp ground cumin
  • 3 tbsp crushed red chili pepper
  • One 15-oz can crushed tomatoes (or 2 medium tomatoes, diced)
  • 1 tbsp sriracha sauce (optional)
  • 1 can chopped green chili peppers, drained (optional)
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds (optional)
  • 1.5-2 cups cooked black beans (or beans of choice – I used a tri-color blend)
  • salt & pepper, to taste

In a large pot over medium to low heat, add the olive oil, onion, and garlic. Sauté for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, chop the peppers, zucchini, green onion, and remove corn from cob. Add the veggies into the pot and sauté for another 5-10 minutes.

Add in the crushed tomatoes, cumin, broth, and chia seeds. Stir well and season with salt and pepper. Simmer on low-medium heat for 25-30 minutes.


This next recipe comes from a lovely girl who sits next to me in my Jan term class. Molly’s blog is super helpful – she recounts the top 5 trending topics of the day and informs all of us why they’re so important. Check it out!

With all the enthusiasm in the world, Ian (from Young and Hella Vegetarian) and I embarked on another culinary exploration. This time our mission was Palestinian Lentils and Rice. What I didn’t realize is that our mission involved feeding us and five more dudes! These are college boys, mind you, and man are they hungry. Luckily we had plenty of supplies, so we doubled the recipe and ended up more than enough. Let me tell you – cooking for a ton of people can be intimidating, but it’s very inspiring when everything comes together. The boys loved this dish, and I never got tired of all the ‘compliments to the chef’!

We all agreed: the key to this meal is ONION. Lots and lots (and possibly even more) sautéed onion is what makes this dish pop. The rice and lentils combo is hearty, just what we needed on a below-freezing winter night. Mix in some nice, big onion chunks and you’ve got yourself heaven in a bowl. Enjoy – there’s no way you can’t love this meal!

Palestinian Lentils and Rice

  • 1 cup jasmine rice
  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp red chili powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Sauté onions in oil until translucent, or very brown and crisp. Remove onions to a bowl and set aside.

Turn heat to med-high and add lentils and rice; sauté quickly in oil, add cumin and salt and pepper. Add 3 cups of water to rice and lentils and bring to boil. Cover tightly and cook on low heat for 20-25 minutes. Fluff up rice and lentils and top with onions.




One more thing – the title of this blog post brought me right back to 1997. That’s right baby, I’m talking Sugar Ray.  Have a blast this weekend everybody, and remember that Iiiiii just wanna fly!

Day 8 – Surprising Successes (& Tofu!)

10 Jan


Song of the Post –  Cake by Keepaway 

Hey bloggies!

Are you ready for a whirlwind post full of unconventional ingredients and spectacular results?  I trust you are, and here we go!

Starting in the beginning – breakfast.  I subscribe to the weekly newsletter from PCC Natural Markets (my favorite grocery store in the world), and this last week’s edition featured delicious hot cereal options.  Quinoa, almond milk and a sprinkling of raisins come together to create a warm and cozy breakfast, perfect for frosty winter mornings.  Enjoy and be happy from the inside out!

Hot Quinoa Cereal

  • 1/3 cup whole quinoa, rinsed thoroughly
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk or nut milk
  • 1 /2 cup filtered water
  • Pinch of unrefined salt
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • Generous pinch of pumpkin pie spice (Trader Joe’s brand)

Place all ingredients in a small pot and soak overnight in the refrigerator.

To cook the cereal, place it on the stovetop, covered, on low heat.  Let it simmer slowly for about 20 minutes (up to 1 hour for the rice cereal), stirring occasionally.  Add extra water if the cereal is too thick.  Mix in raisins and pumpkin pie spice and enjoy warm.


Now that you’re full and happy from a piping hot breakfast, it’s time for a crisp, refreshing lunch.

Here’s a Lauren original – Cucumber Spinach and Guac Pita.  It was so good that I forgot to take a picture until I was halfway done!  The combination of cool cucumber slices, powerful red onion and creamy avocado makes for a perfect midday meal.  Also, I’m a sucker for onions… so I added extra red onion slices on top.  Yum!

Cucumber Spinach and Guac Pita

  • 3 avocados, mashed
  • 1/4 red onion, diced
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cucumber, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup spinach
  • 1 whole wheat pita
Mix avocados, onion, tomato and salt to make the guacamole.  Spread guac on pita bread, add cucumbers and spinach.  Munch and enjoy!


And now, the main event.  Ladies and gentlemen, I conquered one of the most terrifying and misunderstood vegetarian ingredients of all time – TOFU!  After a few hours of research, I decided that there are two things necessary for creating exceptional tofu – it must be baked and it has to have a lot of flavor.  Peas and Thank You is a lovely cooking website, and I’m convinced they have the best tofu marinade recipe of all time!

My fear of tofu has vanished completely after trying this simple and fantastic dish.  Crisp, spicy and colorful – I am seriously shocked at how delicious it was!  The trick is maple syrup.  It gives the tofu an interesting taste mid-bite!  Anyways, I swear by this recipe and encourage everyone to try it out.  Tofu is my friend, and it wants to be your friend too!  Go for it.

Spicy Baked Tofu

  • 3 T. soy sauce, tamari or Bragg’s Aminos
  • 1 T. maple syrup (or agave)
  • 3 T. water
  • 1 t. chili powder
  • 1/2 t. cumin
  • 1 block of tofu, cut in 1/4 inch thick slices

Prepare your marinade in a large container with a sealable lid by whisking together all ingredients.  Carefully add your tofu. And even more carefully, place the lid on the container and give it a gentle toss.  After at least a couple hours, your tofu should be evenly coated and will have absorbed most of the liquid.

Preheat the broiler and coat a baking sheet with cooking spray or a light mist of oil. Arrange tofu slices on the baking sheet and drizzle any remaining marinade over the top.  Broil the tofu on one side for 5-6 minutes, flip the tofu over and return it to the oven to broil for an additional 5-6 minutes on the opposite side.  Serve as taco filling, on top of salad, or as a meal of its own.