Simple Pesto

Basics, Recipes

When I can get my hands on lots of good basil, I like to make a big batch of pesto to keep on hand.  As long as you don’t mind brown or make sure to keep the air out, pesto keeps just fine and works well on sandwiches or to make a quick meal with pasta.  This rich pesto is shown here on a homemade tortilla. It’s also good on fingers.

1/2 cup walnuts (or whatever seed or nut you have on hand)
10 cloves garlic
3 small bunches fresh basil or about 5 cups. I use the stems, too, if they aren’t too woody
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup hemp seed oil

Measure your oils into the same measuring cup, set aside.  Add all other ingredients to food processor and process until paste forms.  You may need to help it along, but it seems quickest to just put it all in at once instead of chopping things up separately.  Slowly drizzle oil into processor bowl while processor is running.  Use immediately or pack the pesto into a jar.  You can store this in the freezer or fridge, but either  way, if you don’t want a small layer of brown pesto (which seems to me to just be an aesthetic thing), make an air barrier with either plastic wrap (press it right into the pesto) or oil.  If you’re freezing it, you could even get fancy and freeze it in an ice cube tray and then remove the pesto cubes to a bag once they are frozen.

Yum-Worthy Oatmeal

Basics, Recipes

If you have a little extra time for cooking breakfast, this oatmeal is really worth it. This recipe serves 2.

1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup milk of your choice (I used homemade rice)
1/2 tablespoon oil (I used coconut)
1/2 cup steel-cut oats
pinch salt

Fruit and nuts of your choice
Maple syrup, to taste

Put wet ingredients in large measuirng cup or other suitable container.  Microwave on high until they begin to bubble but do not boil.  While this is microwaving, add oil to skillet over medium heat.  Stir in oats and keep stirring until golden, about 2 minutes.    Carefully pour warm liquid mixture into skillet with oats.  Bring to simmer and let cook until oatmeal thickens, about 20 minutes.  Add salt.  At this point, you will want to stir with a chopstick or spoon handle.  Keep stiring this way every few minutes until the oatmeal reaches the consistency of pudding (or whatever consisitency you’d prefer).  This should take no more than 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Adding frozen fruits will help cool it down to a temperature suitable for eating.

No Worries Rhubarb Pie


Sometimes pie crust can be finicky.  When you’re trying to speed things along for maximum oven efficiency, it doesn’t seem worth it to get things perfect.  Both layers of crust stuck to the parchment paper when I was rolling them out.  No worries! Scrape it off and push it into the pie tin for the bottom crust.  For the top, crumble it over the top and sprinkle with pretty sugar.  This is a veganized version of rhubarb cream pie.  The misleading name just means the filling is extra thick and gooey, traditionally accomplished by the addition of an egg.


This recipe uses my old standby, Oil Pastry Crust.  You’ll need to make one recipe’s worth of that.  If you have it, add a little lemon peel to the flour for a little extra zing in your crust.


Filling Ingredients


2 bunches rhubarb, or enough to pile high in your pie pan once cleaned and chopped
about 1 cup sugar, to taste
1 tablespoon ground flax seed
1 tablespoon rice syrup
2 tablespoons flour
1 t freshly ground nutmeg
splash lemon juice or milk of your choice
(optional) a couple tablespoons of your favorite butter substitute




Preheat oven to 350° F.  In a large bowl, mix sugar, flax, rice syrup, flour, nutmeg and liquid until uniform.  Chop rhubarb and put into bowl with other filling ingredients.  Toss to coat.  Pour this mixture into bottom pie shell. It should be piled above the edge of the tin.   Dot rhubarb with butter substitute if using.  Cover with top layer of crust.  Poke holes in crust.  Put pie on rimmed cookie sheet to catch any overflow.  Bake in preheated oven for about an hour or until the crust looks done and you can smell rhubarb goodness.  You may need to cover with foil to prevent the crust from browning.  If you can stand it, let cool slightly before serving to let it set up a little.


Cuisinart Griddler Indoor Electric Grill

Gadget Reviews, Reviews

I’ve recently rediscovered my panini press.  Well, technically, it’s called a griddler, as I discovered when I looked it up on Amazon.  Whatever.  My mom got it for me nearly brand new from a garage sale a few years ago for $5 or something.  Anyway, when you make homemade bread, my beloved sandwich maker doesn’t always work out for the best.  Enter The Griddler.  The thing I really like about it is that the plates come free and are dishwasher safe.  It’s hard to beat trendy sandwiches and easy cleanup.



I just made some yummy little sandwiches with pesto, fermented almond cheese olive spread and roasted orange peppers on sourdough bread.  (Edit: try my simple pesto here)  All homemade.  All vegan.  All yummy.

I’m sure the burgers pictured at the bottom of this post are vegan.  Pretty convincing, eh?  🙂  If you click on it, you use my affiliate link and can check it out on Amazon.



Use-It-Up Carob Brownies


This recipe was inspired by my search for delicious vegan brownies and my desire to finally use up the carob powder I’ve had in my fridge for way too long.  Due to having various other odds and ends in my fridge, this turned out to be a rather elective recipe.  Never fear, it tastes spectacular.  I like the slight caramel taste carob powder lends to this treat.  I can’t wait to try this with cocoa powder to continue striving for that ultimate brownie experience.


½ cup cooked black beans
½ cup cooked garbanzo beans
¼ cup raw almonds
¼ cup hemp seeds
2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
½ cup sugar
1 cup carob powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup vegetable oil
½ tablespoon vanilla extract
½ cup brewed coffee (less if you used a wet sugar)

Let oven warm up to 325° F.  Prepare a 9×9” baking pan with oil and set aside.

Add beans, nuts and seeds to food processor.  Process until a paste forms.  Add the rest of the dry ingredients and process until uniform.  Add wet ingredients and process until smooth; don’t be afraid to let it go awhile.  Pour into prepared pan and put in oven.  Cook until it doesn’t jiggle and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with only crumbs (and not raw batter), about 35 minutes.

Remove from oven and if you can stand it, let it sit for a day or so to let the flavors develop.

Vegan Food Swap: April


You can see some of the goodies from my April box.

Imagine exchanging care packages with cool vegans from around the country every month.  That’s what the Vegan Food Swap is all about.  I received a fun box from Karen of Seattle Veg Coach chock full of vegan treats.  Opening it up and seeing everything inside was great fun.  The box was stuffed full of goodies.  If you’d like to join in the fun, you can sign up for the Vegan Food Swap, too.

The first thing I tried was a Naked Dillo.  Holy cow!  That was good and I had never even heard of them.  My sweetie pie just asked me what I was typing and when I told him I was working on my Vegan Food Swap reveal entry, he said, “That Twinkie was frickin amazing”.  He was much more of a Twinkie connoisseur than I was, and when we tried the Naked Dillo, he said it was better than the non-vegan original.

The next thing I tried was some Jerquee—another product I had never heard of.  I took these with me when I was going to a dinner meeting at what I assumed to be a very vegan unfriendly restaurant judging from their online menu.  Anyway, I wanted my own source of protein and these fit the bill handily.  I wasn’t too impressed by the flavor, but they weren’t bad.  They were quite chewy and the chunks felt like they fizzed on my tongue.  I’m planning to try the fake bacon flavored ones on a pizza that I’ve got in the works.  Check back for photos of that.

I also shared the Jokerz bar with my sweetie, which, in my research for a project that I’ve had on the back burner for a while now, I came across online but had never seen in person.  It was very yummy.  Snickers bars were definitely my favorite grocery store checkout treat.  I would say that the Jokerz bar is more satisfying than Snickers.

Probably the most wholesome thing from the box was a bag of Soy Curls.  While they sound something like Cheetos, they are actually a meat substitute.  Karen even included a recipe sheet with them.  I’ve had something like these before from a health food store in Chicago.  My housemates affectionately called them soy pillows because they soak up so much flavor.

I also received a Chick-O-Stick, which I enjoyed and also had never really noticed before.  I guess it’s a conventional candy that happens to be vegan.  My sweetie pie likes them.  I have yet to try the Raspbery Jel Dessert, SoyGo singles, B Fresh gum, or Biscoff cookies or spread.  Of those, the only thing I had heard of before was the Biscoff.  I had read about the spread online and had tried a Biscoff biscuit on a plane last summer.  I’m looking forward to trying all these treats and really enjoyed getting a sampling of products that I’ve never heard of before.  Kudos to Karen for putting together a really fun and full box for me.

As I’ve participated in this project, I’ve realized how much I tend toward whole foods.  I want to be up on processed vegan products because those are fun and easy, but I want to continue to view “convenience foods” as a fun treat.  So far, so good.

Oat Chai Cookies


This recipe uses oatmeal and whole wheat pastry flour for a cookie that’s chewy on the inside and crispy on the outside.  The next time I make these, I am going to increase the spices and also experiment with not using a mortar and pestle on the whole chai spices to save a step.


Yields 36 cookies (plus raw dough to devour sample)



Oil, for greasing cookie sheet



10 whole cardamom pods (crush enough so that seeds fall out and remove pods)

1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds

5 whole black peppercorns

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 small knob of ginger, grated (I found out this is optional, since adding it slipped my mind this time around)



1 cup maple sugar granules (or unrefined dry sugar of your choice)

¼ cup maple syrup

150 g coconut oil (about 2/3 to ¾ cup)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon ground flax

3 tablespoons black tea or water



1 cup steel cut oats (uncooked)

1 ¼ cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt


Preheat oven to 375°F and grease two large cookie sheets.  Get your cooling racks ready for when the hot cookies come out of the oven.


Grind spices with mortar and pestle (this step may not be necessary if you are processing your own oat flour).  Add steel cut oats to food processor, add spices, and process until it looks like flour.  This may take a while.  Add pastry flour and the rest of the dry ingredients and pulse to combine.


Prepare egg substitute by adding boiling water (or hot tea) to ground flax, mixing and letting stand.


Whip together sugar and syrup with coconut oil and vanilla until smooth.  Add egg substitute and mix until smooth again.  Gradually add dry ingredients.  Roll into two-teaspoon-sized balls, place on greased cookie sheet, and bake.  It didn’t seem to make a different whether or not I put the dough in the freezer before baking, but feel free to experiment with this if time allows.  Bake 5 minutes and switch and rotate top and bottom sheets.  Bake 3 minutes more.  Cookies will be tender and they should not be too brown on the bottom.  Immediately transfer to cooling rack—they don’t fall apart as long as you’re gentle.  Feel free to experimenting with cooling on the cookie sheet for desired texture.  Using the method described above, the room temperature cookies are crispy on the bottom and otherwise chewy.  They get crispier as they sit.


This recipe has passed the test for raw, hot out of the oven and room temperature tests. For the brief amount of time these cookies spent in my kitchen (a couple days), they stayed about the same level of chewy/crispy as when they cooled while stored in a semi-airtight container.


Lemon Bundt Cake with Coconut Nests


This recipe is a new twist on a family tradition.  This version of the cake was light and a little on the dry side (but by no means unpleasantly dry) with a delightful slightly caramelized outer edge.  A cake like this one made frequent appearances at Easters during my childhood.  One year, the Easter bunny sampled the cake and patched it back together with green coconut.  When I made it this year, Zoie Dog helped herself to a sample when I left the cake too close to the edge of the counter at my sweetie pie’s parent’s house.  (I’m not used to having dogs around any more.)  Lemon frosting and green coconut to the rescue once again!  This cake is great for any special springtime occasion, and when a less fussy dessert is desired, make the icing thinner and drizzle over the cake instead of making nests.  For an even more simple dessert, instead of icing, powdered sugar may also be used for decoration.

1 ½ cup sugar
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 can coconut milk (about 14 oz)
1/2 C lemon juice (Juice from 3 -4 lemons or use pure lemon juice that’s not from concentrate)
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

¼ cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice +more as needed

¼ cup Flaked or shredded coconut (I prefer unsweetened)
A couple drops natural food dye
12 or so Vegan jelly beans

Coat your Bundt pan with oil and set aside. Preheat oven to 350°F.
Combine the following ingredients in a large bowl: sugar, oil, coconut milk, lemon juice and vanilla. Mix until smooth. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix until combined. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for one hour or until cake passes toothpick test. Leave the cake in a pan and cool on a rack or on a bottle. When completely cool, run a knife between cake and pan to loosen, place plate on pan, and invert. Give pan a few taps to release onto plate and remove pan.

Put coconut into a small bag. Add a drop of food coloring and shake to mix, adding food coloring drop by drop and shaking between additions until coconut is desired shade of green.
To make icing: add lemon juice to powdered sugar in small bowl. Whisk into a paste so that no chunks remain. Add more lemon juice as needed to make a thick paste. This will act as glue.
Once cake has cooled completely, add a dab of icing and sprinkle the coconut “grass” over the icing, pressing in with a spoon so it sticks. Add another dab of frosting to the coconut nests and add jelly beans—I like to have three per nest.
You can make thinner icing and drizzle this over the cake or simply sprinkle with powdered sugar.


Review of The Sexy Vegan Cookbook

Cookbook Reviews, Reviews

A while back, I requested The Sexy Vegan Cookbook by Brian L. Patton from the library and was able to pick it up this afternoon.  The first thing I noticed was that there are no color photographs.  The book does have some black and white photographs, but they are used more as graphical elements than for highlighting recipes.

There’s certainly no lack of visual coherence, however.  Overall, the book looks aesthetically pleasing in a self-consciously edgy sort of way.  In looking through the book, the second thing I noticed (after the lack of helpful photographs), was that some recipes have QR codes.  Throughout the book, there are 15, which can be used by tech-savvy and smartphone-equipped readers to quickly access videos that will help them with the recipes.  Slightly less tech-savvy readers can use the URLs which appear in an appendix.  Non tech-savvy readers are stuck with a book with very few black and white pictures.  The QR codes are a neat gimmick that help the book stand out in my mind.  In fact, I learned a great way to roast and peel beets by watching one of them.

This book also offers a lot of personal commentary from the author.  It seems like it would be an entertaining read for some.  What stumps me about The Sexy Vegan Cookbook is trying to figure out its target demographic.  It might be the type of book a hip vegan twenty-something something woman would buy for her non-vegan live-apart boyfriend as a passive aggressive means of convincing him to be vegan.  And if he opened it, he might be entertained.  And if he was entertained, he might try a recipe.  And if he tried a recipe, he might be more open to vegan food.  And that’s a good thing.  But, that can’t be the book’s sole appeal, which makes me wonder, do vegan men really want that much ball/wang/ass humor with their recipes?  Give me unadulterated recipes any day—the extraneous humor (“Here they are!  For the whole planet to behold…My Balls!”) detracts from a cookbook in my view.  But that seems to be The Sexy Vegan’s shtick.  I think the bottom line is I am not part of this book’s target audience.

I think if this book were in my permanent collection, I’d use it occasionally because there’s some good basic recipes in there.  As long as we’re theoretically speaking, however, I might begin to wonder if a less edgy and more complete vegan recipe reference book would be my first choice.  Something like 500 Vegan Recipes.  To The Sexy Vegan Cookbook’s credit, though, I don’t think 500 Vegan Recipes contains any mixed drink recipes.  The chapter on cocktails is definitely a cool thing about The Sexy Vegan Cookbook.

There are some good recipes in this book.  One such recipe is “The Luigi”, a 14-inch pizza with 20 cloves of garlic (on page 162).    Now you’re cooking!  That’s some serious garlic!  I also like that each element of this pizza is homemade and the book offers recipes for everything from the dough, cashew ricotta, not-zzarella sauce, parmesan topping, and basil chiffonade.

When it comes to vegan cooking, “chiffonade” sounds a whole lot sexier to me than “balls”, “wang”, or “ass”.   While much of the book’s humor is lost on me, it’s clear that a lot of effort has gone into producing this cookbook.  After all, it’s the first cookbook I’ve seen with QR codes that direct readers to online content.  In the end, perhaps I take a page from Brian L. Patton’s book when I say, “different strokes for different folks.”

Creamy Sage Pesto Sauce


A bounty of sage in our indoor garden inspired a meal using this sauce with whole wheat pasta spirals, zucchini, and pre-soaked and cooked white beans.  While the pasta was boiling, I cooked the zucchini in a pan with a little olive oil and added the white beans, pasta and sauce.  You can also add some Parmesan Replacer on top if you have some around.


1/2 cup hemp seeds
1 cups fresh sage leaves, firmly packed
1/2 cup Italian parsley
1/4 cup garlic (about one small head)
1 teaspoon salt
Juice of one lemon
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1/2 cup olive oil


Process all ingredients except olive oil in food processor until smooth.  Slowly drizzle in olive oil while processor is running.  Process until creamy.  The sauce will be a pastel green color.  Add to pasta or application of your choice.  This sauce tastes pretty good straight from the finger, too.