I love recipes that turn a classic dish on its side. Lately I've been seeing an abundance of posts on Instagram about "Lasagna Soup", and I've been intrigued. But, I have and entire family of non-tomato sauce loving people (well, okay, one of them loves tomato but the feeling isn't reciprocal. The smallest two, however, just flat out despise it, unless it's on top of a pizza.)
But I really wanted to try lasagna soup (read: I really wanted something that tasted like lasagna but didn't involve all the effort because, see above.)
So I thought about what my family does love: creamy sauce. And I figured, well...since lasagna can be made with a cream-based sauce, why can't Lasagna Soup?
Turns out, it can. And it's good. Like they finished off the entire pot good. The creamy sauce, laden with tons of gooey vegan mozzarella is hearty and soothing and perfect for a cold winter night. You could load this soup up with tons of sauteed veggies or add a faux meat (which we did). It's totally up to you. Just don't skimp out on the cheese (because lasagna is all about the cheese) and be sure to add the noodles at the very end, because they'll soak up that soup faster than you can!
1. Cook pasta according to box directions. Drain and rinse under cold water until cool enough to handle. Lay a cooked and cooled noodle on a flat surface and, using a a pasta cutter or a knife, cut lengthwise in half, then cut each piece in half again lengthwise so that you have four long ribbons. Trim each ribbon into thirds so that you have small ribbon pieces. Repeat with all remaining noodles. Set aside.
2. In a large pot, heat oil on med-high heat. Add white and green onions and saute for 3-4 min. Add mushroom slices and saute until golden and dark, about 5-7 min.
3. Add chickn pieces and saute for 4-5 min until lightly browned on outsides. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
4. Add coconut milk, vegetable stock, vegan chicken soup base and nutritional yeast. Stir to combine. Bring to a light boil on medium high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low.
6. Stir in shredded cheese and black pepper. Simmer on medium low heat until cheese melts, stirring occasionally, about 5-7 minutes.
7. Remove from heat. Add noodles to soup; garnish with parsley (if using) and serve.
Chicken Pot Pie is probably at the top of most peoples' comfort food list. I mean, what's not to love? Flaky crust, rich and creamy sauce, potatoes...its like a bowl full of hugs. Vegan chick'n pot pie is all of the above times 10. In the almost 8 years we've been vegan, I've tested more pot pie variations than I can count, and used just about all the possible vegan proteins. While chickpeas and tempeh are the cleanest and healthiest options, I didn't feel like I was eating a "chicken" pot pie. Tofu hit that mark but tofu is kind of bland. And we eat so many other tofu dishes, I wanted something different. So I opted for vegan "chick'n" strips. Both Gardein and Beyond Meat make excellent versions that work really well in this dish. I recommend the Gardein brand mostly because it's so readily available.
So, while it's still cold out, and while carbs and sweat pants are socially acceptable, I'll be tucked away in my warm kitchen, eating pot pie. Maybe I'll serve a salad on the side, because - supposedly - summer is coming!
Homestyle Chick’n Pot Pie
(For a double crust - top and bottom, double this recipe)
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
½ tsp salt
½ cup cold butter
4-t tsp cold water
2-3 medium yukon gold potatoes, cut in small cubes
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
4 cremini mushrooms, stems removed, tops sliced
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 225 gram package vegan chicken strips, defrosted and largely diced
2 tbsp vegetarian chicken soup base or 1 vegan chicken bouillon cube
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1 ½ cups vegetable broth
½ cup canned or frozen peas (optional)
½ cup canned or frozen corn (optional)
1 tbsp melted vegan butter
Make a single crust (top crust only):
In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Using a pastry cutter (or two knives), cut butter into flour until the mix resembles coarse cornmeal.
Add cold water, 2 tsp at a time; using your hands, mix until dough comes together. If dough is too dry, add more water, 1 tsp at a time, until dough is set.
Form dough into a ball and turn out onto plastic wrap. Flatten slightly to form a disc; cover in plastic wrap and chill for minimum 30 minutes.
Make a double crust (top and bottom crust):
In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Using a pastry cutter (or two knives), cut butter into flour until the mix resembles coarse cornmeal.
Add cold water, 4 tsp at a time; using your hands, mix until dough comes together. If dough is too dry, add more water, 2 tsp at a time, until dough is set.
Form dough into a ball and cut in half. Turn out each half onto its own sheet of plastic wrap. Flatten each slightly to form discs; cover in plastic wrap and chill for minimum 30 minutes.
Make the filling:
In a large pot, bring 4L of water to a boil and par-boil potatoes until just barely fork tender. Drain and set aside.
In a deep skillet, heat olive oil on medium high heat. Add onions and saute until just translucent, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms, carrot and celery and saute until soft and golden, about 8-10 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
Add chicken strips and vegetarian chicken soup base (or bouillon cube). Cook until warmed through and soup base/bouillon is dissolved and mixed through. Add flour and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until all flour is cooked out.
Stir in vegetable broth. Cook, stirring constantly, until a thick sauce forms. Add peas and/or corn (if using). Remove from heat and set aside.
Bake the Bottom Crust:
Preheat oven to 375F.
On a well-floured surface, roll out one disc of pie dough to approx ¼ inch thick. Roll the dough back onto the rolling pin and use it to transfer dough to pie dish. Press dough down gently into dish and up along the sides. Trim any excess edges. Use a fork to poke holes in the bottom and sides of dough (or use dry bean weights) and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven.
Assemble the Pie:
Scoop filling into pie dish with baked bottom crust and spread evenly. Repeat step above with remaining disc of pie dough to create top crust. Gently place crust on top of pie; trim off excess dough and using your fingers or a fork, crimp edges all around the pie. Cut an “x” in the middle of the crust; brush top crust with melted butter. Bake at 375F for 20 minutes or until crust is golden. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
I made a huge batch of this dish the other night and I'm basically living off the leftovers.
The weather here keeps changing from freezing cold to mild but damp (and back) and I feel like I'm always cold and soggy. But bowls full of big chunks of sweet potato, carrot, zucchini, tofu and bright sugar snap peas coated in a thick coconut milk base curry satay sauce and lots of rice noodles are keeping me nice and warm.
My most favourite curry ever is Panang Curry. Probably because it includes peanut butter...oh where I would be without peanut butter? Panang Curry is spicy, sweet, sour and salty and has more of a Thai influence than an Indian one (spoiler alert: Thai food is my favourite!)
I’ve been dreaming of a Panang Curry for a while now, but since it wasn’t a takeout night, and I didn’t have the time (or ingredients) to make a legit homemade version, I improvised, and turned my “curry in a hurry” sauce into a pseudo-Panang sauce thanks to the addition of some peanut satay paste and fresh limes.
What I love best about this dish is how quickly it comes together - and how much multitasking it does. It's a very rustic dish, which means you don’t have to spend a ton of time dicing and slicing. It’s on the table in about 30 minutes and it’s perfect for cold winter nights.
Golden Satay Veggie Curry
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add carrots and sweet potatoes and boil until *just* barely fork-tender (about 6-7 min). Use a slotted spoon to remove veggies and set aside. Toss rice noodles in the already-boiling water and cook according to package directions. Drain and run under cold water to prevent noodles from sticking/clumping together.
While the potatoes and carrots are cooking, heat olive oil in a deep pan on medium-high heat. Add onion and saute until translucent (about 5-7 min) Add mushrooms, tofu, zucchini and garlic and continue to cook until just tender (5-7 min). Add potatoes, carrots and spinach and saute until spinach is wilted.
Stir in coconut milk, vegetable broth, curry paste and satay paste and mix to combine. Simmer for 10 min. Add sugar snap peas. Add cornstarch slurry and stir to thicken, about 2-3 minutes. Toss rice noodles in the pan and gently combine.
Divide into bowls, sprinkle with fresh lime juice and serve.
I added a few new goodies to my collection of #vintage cookbooks today.
People often ask me why I have kept - and continue to buy non-vegan cookbooks for my collection now that I eat only plant-based foods. I have several reasons, one of the most important being that I am a lover of storytelling. All types of storytelling.
All cookbooks tell a story. Vintage cookbooks teach us about history. So much of our lives revolve around food; and food has played a great role in the history of our society. I'm fascinated by the changes in cooking styles over the decades; in food trends and in culinary growth. For instance, The Fannie Farmer cookbook is the very first cookbook in the USA to ever use standardized measurements, and was a trailblazer for cookbooks to come. It was first written in 1896 and is still iconic to this day.
(Fannie herself is an amazing study in women in history, btw...) So while most of that book has recipes I'll never make, its hallowed pages mark a moment in history - one that had a significant impact in my culinary journey.
Cookbooks written by journalistic publications offer great glimpses into food trends of days past. The NYT and Good Housekeeping books pictured here are from the 1950s and 60s and offer a great slice of post world war 2/baby boom Americana, which appeal to my love of 20th century North American history.
I learned to read at age three - and have been devouring books ever since. I hold university degrees in both English Literature and Communications, and have spent most of my life in a career that focuses on both reading and writing. So I guess you could say I've had a life-long love affair with the written word.
But all that literary stuff aside, I'm a cook. I have a passion for technique and trial and for chefs and cookbook authors and their personalities. Ina Garten, Jamie Oliver, Julia Child...they are legends to me. They have taught me, inspired me, and while most of their recipes use ingredients I won't, their approach is universal: they cook good food. And that approach applies to a vegan world as much as an omnivore's.
My greatest personal cooking successes are omnivore dishes I've transformed into just-as-good (or even better) vegan ones. I didn't give up meat or dairy because I didn't like the taste of it; I gave it up because of how unhealthy it is for my body. Would I love a good buffalo chicken wing right now? Heck yeah. But I don't want to eat a chicken. It's not healthy for me, and definitely not fair to the chicken. But if Guy Fieri has a kick-ass wing sauce recipe, why wouldn't I want to use it on a cauliflower or seitan "wing?"
So as long as good cooks inspire me with great tasting food, I'll continue to collect their books, and rise to the challenge of "anything you can make, I can make vegan!"
Put down that takeout menu! This Sweet and Sticky Sesame Tofu will blow the doors off anything your local Chinese place makes. (And it's healthier too!)
Now I need to figure out a way not to eat this all before dinnertime...
Sweet and Sticky Sesame Tofu
For the dish:
2 packages extra firm tofu, drained, pressed and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 package cremini mushrooms, sliced (you can use any mushroom really. We prefer cremini)
1 sweet onion, diced
1 each, red, orange and yellow pepper, chopped
1.5 cups diced fresh or canned pineapple
Sautéing liquid of choice (we use vegetable broth, but oil or water or vegan butter are acceptable too)
2 sliced green onions (optional: for garnish)
For the sauce:
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp rice wine or apple cider vinegar
3 tbsp tomato paste
1-2 tsp sriracha (to taste)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp grated ginger
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 cup water
1 tbsp maple syrup (or agave/brown rice syurp if you prefer)
¼ cup mirin (or white wine)
¼ cup sesame seeds
2 tbsp corn starch dissolved in 4 tbsp cold water
1. Lay tofu on a parchment-lined baking sheet in a single layer. Bake at 400F for 20 minutes until tofu is lightly golden. Set aside.
2. In a large sauté pan on medium high, cook onions and mushrooms until onions are translucent and mushrooms begin to darken, about 5 minutes. Add peppers and continue to sauté until mushrooms are dark and peppers soften.
3. In a medium size bowl, whisk together soy sauce, vinegar, tomato paste, sriracha, garlic, ginger, hoisin sauce, water, maple syrup and mirin.
4. Add tofu, pineapple and sesame seeds to sauté pan. Pour in sauce and stir to combine. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. Pour in cornstarch slurry, stirring constantly until sauce thickens. Simmer for 2-3 more minutes.
6. Remove from heat and serve on rice. Garnish with sliced green onions and more sesame seeds.
I'm eating this soup for breakfast today. I'm not kidding.
It's Monday, and it's raining. (Welcome to November in Toronto), and I spent my early morning running the kids to school, grocery shopping, and hauling out garbage bins under a blustery mist of rain, and I'm chilled to the bone.
While I waited for my tea to steep (and organized the fridge), I remembered I had bought chopped butternut squash and some leeks the other day, and I needed to use them up. I've been working on a perfect butternut squash soup for my cookbook for a while now, and wanted to test drive what (I hoped) would be the final version. I think it hit the spot, but I'll let you decide.
I meant to eat "breakfast food" while I was cooking it, but a flurry of activity (and lack of counter space) kept me from my morning bagel, and suddenly I was starving. Fortunately for me, this steaming pot of golden soup, with it's warm smells of cinnamon, nutmeg and chili flakes wafting into the air, was ready. Lucky me!
What I love about this soup is that it's super-easy to make (because the squash roasts in the time it takes to prep and saute the remaining ingredients), and because it's a pureed soup - so there's no need to worry about fancy knife skills and perfectly diced veggies. Rough, large chops are totally fine here. It's ready in less than an hour and is a great fall/winter staple.
Roasted Butternut Squash and Leek Soup
8 cups of butternut squash, cubed
1 leek, root and top discarded, and sliced into rounds
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, sliced
4 tbsp olive oil, divided in half
1 vegan chicken bouillon cube
1 cup water
4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 tsp each: ground cinnamon, paprika, crushed chili flakes*
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 cup coconut milk
salt and pepper to taste
*you can adjust the chili based on your preference for heat. This amount gives it a warm heat without being too spicy - but enough to know it's there.
Preheat oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat.
Toss butternut squash with 2 tbsp olive oil and salt/pepper in a large bowl. Arrange on a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for 20-25 minutes until tender but not mushy.
Soak leeks in a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes to loosen sand or dirt. Strain by removing leeks with a slotted spoon, leaving the water in the original bowl. (Don't strain leeks the way you drain pasta, otherwise you'll just pour all the dirt and sand back on to them.)
In a large pot, heat remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil on medium-high heat, until shimmering. Add onions and cook until soft and translucent, about 7 minutes. Add leeks and garlic and cook for an additional 10 minutes until leeks are soft and wilted.
Add bouillon cube, water, vegetable broth, roasted squash and spices. Stir well to combine, and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add 1 cup of coconut milk and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and puree using an immersion blender (or transfer to a blender in small amounts). Adjust salt and pepper and serve.
Seriously, you could order a lean corned beef sandwich AND sweet and sour chicken balls at the same time. To six-year-old me, this was brilliant. In some way, it probably led to my current love of taking everyday favourite foods and giving them an international twist.
Ginsburg and Wong hasn’t been around for a very long time, and even if it were there now, grown up, vegan me wouldn’t have much interest in it, but tonight’s dinner reminded me how much fun it is to mix cuisines and create something wonderful. Like my Asian-inspired “chicken” noodle soup.
My littlest one has been sick all week, and hasn’t has much of an appetite, but bow-tie pasta and clear soup are two things she will almost never turn down. And with the weather being what it is (hello Fall in Canada), soup is pretty much on everyone’s mind lately. When I was sick as a kid, Lipton’s chicken noodle soup was my go-to comfort food. That bright yellow broth and slurpy noodles...it was like a hug in a bowl.
An acquaintance recently introduced me to the vegetarian chicken soup base at Bulk Barn (which is 100% accidentally vegan!) and it’s been my number one soup and flavour base ever since. So off I went to make her some vegan ‘chicken’ soup. But I also had some mushrooms, green onions, smoked tofu and ginger lingering in the fridge that needed to be used up. So I grabbed a little soy sauce, hoisin and sriracha and BOOM! Asian ‘chicken soup was born.
It’s like the hugs of my childhood, with a spicy, rich twist.
Quick and Easy
1 package of pasta/noodles, cooked according to package directions
6 cups water
⅓ cup vegetarian chicken soup base (or two cubes of vegan chicken bouillon)
2 tbsp olive oil
½ large onion, diced
1 thumb ginger, grated
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 green onions, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp soy sauce
2 tbsp vegetarian hoisin sauce
Sriracha to taste
½ block of smoked tofu, sliced into strips
Cook pasta according to package directions and set aside.
In a large soup pot, heat oil on medium-high heat until shimmering. Add white onion and saute for 5-7 minutes until soft and slightly translucent. Add mushrooms and continue to saute until mushrooms are lightly browned and soft. Add green onion, garlic, ginger and simmer and additional 3 minutes.
Add water, veg soup base, soy sauce, hoisin sauce and sriracha. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 7-10 minutes. Add pasta and smoked tofu to pot. Adjust heat level (sriracha) and seasoning (soy or hoisin sauce) to taste. Serve immediately.
I’m going to start this post by saying no - I’m not producing these again. It was fun while it lasted, but our company has moved in another direction. That being said, a good friend of mine is slowly testing out plant-based food options and asked me if there way any way I would “pretty please” make him some of these patties.
It’s been about a year or so since I last made these - long enough for the “twitch” to wear off, so I actually gave it some thought. I mean, when a life-long meat eater comes to you and asks you to make a plant-based version of one of his staple snacks, how do you say no? Plus, I knew that my nine year old would be insanely thrilled to hear mommy made these again (and even more thrilled when she saw one in her school lunch the next day).
Combine all dough ingredients in a food processor and pulse until dough is formed. Turn out onto plastic wrap and roll into a disc. Wrap dough up and chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour.
In a deep pan, heat oil on med-high heat until shimmering. Add onions and saute until golden, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and saute 30 seconds. Add veggie crumble and cook for 5 minutes, allowing crumble to heat thoroughly and to blend with onions.
Add all remaining ingredients to pan, stir to combine and simmer for 5-7 minutes until most of the liquid has cooked out. Set aside to cool.
Break off ¼ of the dough and roll out between two sheets of wax paper. (Do not roll dough directly on counter as it will leave yellow stains from the curry powder.) Roll the dough until it’s ¼ inch thick. Using a large cereal bowl (or any other round shape), cut out rounds.
Let's be honest here, eggs are a hard thing to replace. And whenever I'm asked "what's the thing you miss most now that you're vegan?", my answer is almost always eggs.
They were always an easy go-to dish, and incredibly versatile. But, knowing what I do about them, I prefer to let them be chicks, and find plant-based ways to satisfy that craving.
It's taken me a really long time to find a tofu scramble recipe that I deemed worthy of sharing. Hubby and I are very particular about scrambles, and creating one that had all the elements of a traditional scramble took a lot of time and effort (and tasting!)
Most importantly, I wanted a scramble recipe that could be made using every day pantry ingredients. No searching for overpriced, egg substitutes or exotic spices. Just simple, clean ingredients that will create the perfect eggless-yet-eggy base for breakfast (or dinner...)
What I love best about this recipe is that it's so adaptable. The base is the same, but you can load it up with whatever fillings you prefer. And you can use the filling in a number of ways too (hello quiche!)
So, grab your choice of veggies, plant-based meats, and cheese alternatives and get scrambling!
this is our current fave, but you can swap out our veggies for your own faves, and/or add shredded vegan cheese or vegan meat substitutes too.)
1 block extra firm organic tofu, crumbled.
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
4 tbsp veg broth for sauteeing (or 2 tbsp olive oil if you prefer)
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup baby spinach
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp tumeric
salt and pepper to taste
In a deep pan, heat veg broth or oil on med high heat. Add onions and mushrooms and saute for 5 min until translucent. Add garlic and saute an additional 2 min. Add in spinach and tomatoes (or whichever veg you prefer) and saute until soft or wilted. Add soy sauce and stir to combine.
Add tofu to the pan, along with nutritional yeast and tumeric. Mix well to combine and cook for approx 5 min to warm through. (If the scramble is a bit dry, add more veg broth or water - 2 tbsp at a time - to make it more egg like.)
Season with salt and pepper. Add vegan shredded cheese if using and stir until melted.
Serve immediately, or use as a filling for wraps, quiche, etc
With back to school just around the corner, extra curricular activities starting up again, and the general easy-breezy-lazy days of summer fading away, I'm starting to prepare myself for the busy days ahead. Which, if you're like me, means a whole lot of running (ok, driving) around shuffling little people to and fro, and constant trips to the grocery store, Walmart, etc., all while still trying to manage a career.
Morning breakfast rush, school lunches, after-school-on-the-way-to <insert activity here> snack - all perfect examples of times where quick, make-ahead, healthy snacks (like these no-bake, low sugar chocolate chip energy bites) are a lifesaver.
These delicious little bites pack a bunch of protein and energy in a cute little package that stores well, travels well, and is just sweet enough to let the kids think they're getting a treat. (Hint: they have the same effect on moms too!)
Best of all, they require no baking; take less than 15 min to make and travel well. They are a staple in our house/lunch box/diaper bag/snack pack.
We keep ours nut-free so that our entire house can enjoy them, and so we can send them to school, but you can easily swap out the NON-nut butter for peanut or almond butter too.
(makes about 20 bites)
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup wow butter (or natural unsweetened nut butter of choice)
1/3 cup sticky sweetener of choice (we use Mama Vegan #NoBees vegan honey but maple syrup or agave works well too)
1 cup coconut flakes
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1/2 cup unsweetened chocolate chips
1/4 cup chia seeds
1 tsp vanilla
Mix all the ingredients together.
Refrigerate mix for 10-15 min to make it more firm.
Scoop out mix a tbsp at a time and roll into bite size balls.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.