Creamy Tomato Basil Bisque

IMG_6589Fresh rosemary, basil, and parsley along with fresh stalks of celery, onion, and garlic make this bisque one of the freshest, most fragrant tomato bisque’s you’ll ever eat. No broth is used in this recipe, just fresh ingredients, heavy whipping cream, and mozzarella cheese. This bisque is best when made with local tomatoes that are in season. If possible, buy your tomatoes from a local farmers market, but if that isn’t an option, vine ripened tomatoes from the grocery store will give you the best flavor when tomatoes are out of season. Makes 6-8 servings.

What you will need:
a food processor
butter (optional)
9-10 vine ripened tomatoes
3 celery stalks
1 red onion
5 garlic cloves
1 rosemary sprig
a handful of parsley
1 T Italian seasoning
1 T lemon pepper sea salt grinder
1 1/2 c chopped fresh basil
1 c heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 c mozzarella

Turn a large pot on low heat and start to melt the butter (you can leave the butter out if you want, but still turn the burner on to warm up the pot). In a food processor, combine 5-6 tomatoes, celery, onion, garlic cloves, fresh parsley, and fresh rosemary leaves and blend until smooth. Add to the pot. Meanwhile, chop the rest of the tomatoes into 1/2 inch chunks and add to the pot along with the Italian seasoning and lemon pepper seasoning and continue to cook on low heat for about 20 minutes. Then, add the fresh chopped basil, heavy whipping cream and mozzarella and continue to cook for another 15 minutes. Garnish with fresh scallions, croutons, or more cheese and serve.

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Sweet and Spicy Curried Tofu Taco Lettuce Wraps

Sweet and Spicy Curried Tofu Taco Lettuce Wraps

With ingredients like hot Jamaican yellow curry, cooling cucumber and mint tzatziki sauce, Asian slaw and sweet pineapple- these tacos are infused with flavor that’s bursting at the seams! And they’re gluten free! The Hot Jamaican Yellow Curry Hot Sauce used in this recipe from my good friend, Cowboy George, at Blaze Gourmet, will have you running home crying for yo momma. That’s where the fresh mint leaves and tzatziki come into play. Without them, you might really run home crying to yo momma.

Also, follow these tips on how to freeze and thaw tofu to achieve the best texture and flavor. Don’t skip this step. It’ll give you the best tasting tofu you’ve ever had!

What you will need:
oil for sauteing
1 lb extra firm tofu
1/2 c yellow curry sauce (I recommend Trader Joe’s Yellow Curry Sauce)
1/4 c Blaze Gourmet Hot Jamaican Curry Hot Sauce
Asian coleslaw (you can buy this prepackaged at just about any grocery store. Most of them already have the Asian slaw dressing included. If not, look for an Asian ginger salad dressing)
canned pineapple tidbits, drained

tzatziki sauce
red onion, sliced
fresh mint leaves
romaine lettuce leaves

First, follow these tips on how to freeze, thaw and drain tofu. Crumble the tofu into a scrambled egg consistency and fry in a greased frying pan over medium heat, letting the tofu get crispy on the outside. Mix the two different curry sauces in a bowl and add to the frying pan, making sure to coat every piece of tofu in the sauce. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, mix together the ingredients for the Asian slaw. Then, start filling your romaine lettuce leaves, starting with tzatziki, then the curried tofu, Asian slaw, red onion, pineapple tidbits, and mint leaves. Serve with tequila for your next Taco Tuesday night!

Vegetarian Meatball Stew

Vegetarian Meatball Stew

This is a great crock pot recipe full of veggie meatballs, mushrooms, onions, butternut squash, and kale. The rich, savory, mushroom and onion soup broth is really what makes this stew so crave-able. My secret is using Lipton Mushroom Onion Soup packets. It’s a dry soup mix that is very hearty, savory, and buttery, giving it a very French feel. It almost tricked my friend into thinking it was beef broth (even though she knows better!).

The great thing about stew is that you can throw in any vegetables you want. If you’re not a fan of butternut squash, you can always use sweet potatoes or just regular old potatoes. Swiss chard and spinach are also great greens to use if kale’s not your thing.

What you will need:
2 large portobello mushroom caps
1 small red onion (or half of a large one), diced
1 box of MorningStar Farms Veggie Meatballs
10 oz package of frozen butternut squash
2 very large pieces of kale, cut into 1/4 inch strips
2 tbs butter, plus more for sauteing
1 1/2- 2 packages of Lipton Mushroom Onion Soup Mix (depending on taste)
5 cups of water

Turn the crock pot on to high heat and add 2 tbs butter. Dice the two portobello mushrooms (including the stem) into large cubes and add them to the crock pot. Large chunks are good here. It’s a stew, so big, “meaty” pieces are a good thing. Dice the red onion and add that to the crock pot as well. Cook for about 45 mins- 1 hour, or until mushrooms reduce and are cooked through. Meanwhile, In a skillet over medium heat, add butter and veggie meatballs and cook until they are golden brown on the outside and heated through. Set them aside. Once the mushrooms are cooked, add the butternut squash and broth. Continue to cook for another 20 minutes. Then, chop the kale into 1/4 strips and add to the crock pot. Continue to cook until kale is wilted. Add the veggie meatballs and serve with bread and butter.

Scrambled Egg Muffins

Scrambled Egg Muffins

I was delighted to find one of my friends from out of town staying on my couch earlier this week. I’m even more delighted that she’s stayed at my house every night since. So, I woke up this morning and decided to make us all breakfast. Egg muffins are great for when you have company over. They’re super easy to make, inexpensive, and delicious! I used what I had on hand today, which was crimini mushrooms, mini sweet peppers, and red onion. You can also try adding in things like wilted spinach, fresh garlic, cheese, tomatoes- the list goes on and on. This recipe makes 6 egg muffins.

What you will need:
6 cup muffin tin
6 eggs
1/2 c sliced crimini mushrooms
1/4 c sliced mini sweet peppers
1/4 c sliced red onion
butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs and add sliced mushrooms, sweet peppers and red onion. Grease the muffin tin with butter and pour the egg mix to the top of each cup (and cover with cheese, if desired). Bake for 20- 25 minutes or until eggs are set and no longer runny. Serve with toast, hash browns and coffee.

Chipotle Corn and Kale Salad

Chipotle Corn and Kale Salad

Yesterday was one of those days where I opened up the fridge, looked at the minimal amount of ingredients that I had on hand and thought, “What can I make with this?”. The result was a deliciously satisfying kale salad with a slight kick from chipotle vegenaise. Since I made this on a whim, I didn’t use any measurements for the salad dressing. If you’re having trouble making the dressing, less is always more when you start off. You can always add more if you feel that the dressing is lacking a certain flavor or ingredient, but it’s almost impossible to take away an ingredient once you’ve added too much of it. That being said, this is a very simple and easy salad to make and doesn’t take much time at all. Makes 2 servings.

What you will need:
2 small ears of corn or 1 big ear
1/2 bunch of kale (about 1/2 lb.)
1/2 orange pepper, chopped
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
lemon salted, raw sprouted seeds from Plant Kingdom Bakery
extra virgin olive oil
apple cider vinegar
stone ground mustard
Chipotle Vegenaise
Bragg’s Liquid Amino Acids

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and roast the ears of corn for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, rip the pieces of kale into bite size pieces (no need to use a knife!) and add to a mixing bowl with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, apple cider vinegar and an even smaller drizzle of Bragg’s liquid aminos. Add two generous spoonfuls of stone ground mustard and chipotle vegenaise each, then “massage” the dressing into the kale. Massaging the dressing into the kale will make it more tender and easier to eat. Then, carefully remove the kernels of corn from the cob with a knife and add to the salad along with chopped orange pepper, thinly sliced red onion and lemon salted raw sprouted seeds. Mix all ingredients together and serve in salad bowls.

Cucumber Cups- Vegan with Roasted Corn Salad and Vegetarian with Goat Cheese and Pickled Beets

Cucumber Cups- Vegan with Roasted Corn Salad and Vegetarian with Goat Cheese and Pickled Beets

This is actually a recipe for two different types cucumber cups; one is vegetarian with goat cheese, pickled beets, heirloom tomatoes, red onion, celery and arugula. The other is vegan with a corn salad made of Tofutti cream cheese, roasted corn, purple sweet peppers, red onion, celery and heirloom tomatoes. Cucumber cups make great finger food for parties and gatherings. I will admit, these are a little time consuming to make, but so worth it. All of the ingredients can be prepped the night before, just make sure to keep the salad separate from the cucumbers. Otherwise, you’ll end up with watered down, soggy cucumbers (gross!). One cucumber will make about 10 cups. this recipe is for 20.

What you will need:
a mandolin slicer and a melon baler (if you don’t have either, a knife will work just fine.)

Vegetarian Cucumber Cups with Goat Cheese:
1 large cucumber
1 1/2 c arugula
1 jar of sliced, pickled beets
about half a package of small heirloom tomatoes, cut in half
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced with a mandolin
1/4 of a red onion, thinly sliced with a mandolin
fresh dill
fresh parsley
2 oz goat cheese
1 tsp balsamic vinegar

Cut cucumbers to about 3/4- 1 inch thick (you won’t want them any larger than that. It’ll make them harder to eat as finger food. Ask me how I know). Use a melon baler or knife to hollow out the cucumber bowl, making sure to take as much cucumber off of the sides of the bowl, while still keeping the bottom in tact (this is also very important. the thicker the sides of the cucumber, the harder it will be to eat).

Then, in a salad bowl, combine arugula, dill, parsley, goat cheese, red onion, celery and balsamic vinegar and and mix until everything is coated in goat cheese and balsamic vinegar. Place into cucumber cups and top with a pickled beet slice and heirloom tomato halves. Arrange on a plate and serve.

Vegan Cucumber Cups with Roasted Corn Salad:
1 cucumber
2 ears of sweet corn
2 spoonfuls of Tufutti cream cheese (about 1/3 of the package)
1 sweet pepper, thinly sliced with a mandolin
1/4 of a red onion, thinly sliced with a mandolin
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced with a mandolin
about half a package of small heirloom tomatoes, cut into 4ths
fresh dill
juice of half a lemon
a tsp or less of extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit, and roast both ears of corn for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. While the corn is roasting, prep your cucumbers as explained in the recipe above.

In a salad bowl, combine Tufutti cream cheese, lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil and mix. Then, add sweet pepper, celery, heirloom tomatoes, red onion, and dill. Once the corn has cooled, remove the kernels with a knife and mix all of the ingredients together. Fill cucumber cups, arrange on a plate and serve.

Vegan “Meat” Balls

These vegan “meat” balls pack a whole lot of flavor and protein without using egg or any animal by-products. Textured vegetable protein (TVP) and kidney beans make a great, meaty base for these vegan meatless meat balls. These can also easily be formed into patties to make veggie burgers! Makes about 12 meatless meatballs.

What you will need:
a food processor, mixing bowl and skillet
about 4 oz crimini mushrooms
1/2 red onion
1 can kidney beans
2/3 c TVP
1 tbsp bruschetta seasoning (pictured below)
sea salt to taste
oil for sauteing

Clean mushrooms and onions and chop into small pieces. In a large skillet, heat oil on a medium heat and add mushrooms and onions. They should sizzle once they hit the pan. Cook for about 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, reconstitute the TVP by adding about a 1/3 c hot water and set aside. It should only take about 7 minutes to reconstitute. Once mushrooms and onions are done sauteing and the TVP is reconstituted; in food processor, add drained and rinsed kidney beans, half of the onion and mushroom mix and half of the TVP and blend until smooth. Then, in the large mixing bowl, mix in the rest of the TVP, sauteed mushrooms and onions, blended kidney bean mix, seasonings and salt and mix. Start forming your bean ball mix into balls while heating oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add balls to skillet (you want them to sizzle when they hit the pan, or else they will start to fall apart) and cook until brown on all sides. Use them along with your favorite pasta, or make a meatless meatball sandwich. Freeze any extra for later use.

Tofu Salad- Vegan Faux Egg Salad

Tofu Salad- Vegan Faux Egg Salad

This vegan twist on egg salad will have your taste buds dancing. Crisp, flavorful veggies and fresh herbs really give this dish a bright and delicious flavor. This recipe yields quite a bit of tofu salad, so if you aren’t feeding a lot of people or don’t plan on eating it for days on end, it’s really easy to cut the recipe in half.

What you will need:
2 packages of 14 oz extra firm tofu drained and pressed
2 celery stalks cut into 3rds lengthwise and chopped
1 c chopped red onion
1 large carrot cut into 4ths lengthwise and chopped
1 garlic clove chopped
1/2 c chopped parsley
dill to taste (I usually end up using a lot. dill is one of my favorite herbs)
1/2 c vegenaise
a generous splash of Bragg’s Liquid Amino Acids
1/8- 1/4 c yellow mustard
2 spoonfuls of whole grain dijon mustard
juice of half a lemon

In large mixing bowl, crumble drained tofu into the consistency of scrambled eggs with a fork or your hands. Add all chopped veggies and herbs, along with all your liquid ingredients and mix. Spread over multigrain bread for a delicious sandwich or stuff into mini sweet peppers for a quick, finger food snack.

Mini Shiitake Mushroom and Black Bean Chipotle Hummus Sliders

Mini Shiitake Mushroom and Black Bean Chipotle Hummus Sliders

If you made yesterday’s spicy black bean chipotle hummus, you might be wondering what to do with the leftovers (if there are any!). Here’s a simple, quick and delicious gourmet vegan dish you can make in under 10 minutes.
With pita, I’ll keep it in the freezer and when I’m ready to use it, I’ll use tongs to toast it over an open flame on my stove top. Otherwise, I’d forget I even had it and let it all go stale (it happens too often).

What you will need:
shiitake mushrooms
mini pita rounds
spicy black bean chipotle hummus
red onion
cucumber
kale (i used red kale because it’s so darn pretty)
earth balance buttery spread for sauteing (or olive oil)

Clean and remove stems from shiitake mushrooms. In medium size pan, heat earth balance on a medium/low heat and add shiitake mushrooms. Cook for about 8 minutes, flipping them halfway through. Toast pita on the stove top and spread the chipotle black bean hummus on it, then layer the shiitake mushrooms, red onion, kale and cucumber on top. Great to share with friends or have as a meal all to yourself.

Smoked Fresh Mozzarella Caprese Salad

Smoked Fresh Mozzarella Caprese Salad The use of fresh herbs, locally grown tomatoes and smokey fresh mozzarella make this salad simple yet very flavorful. Using smoked mozzarella adds a little bit of a twist to this classic salad.

What you will need:

2 locally grown beef steak tomatoes

1 1/2 oz fresh basil leaves

3/4 lb. smoked mozzarella

1/4 red onion

1/2 cucumber

2 garlic cloves

1/2 can garbanzo beans (left over from my last blog post)

fresh dill

fresh parsley

1 part extra virgin olive oil

2 parts balsamic vinegar

Slice tomatoes and smoked mozzarella into large chunks. Cut the cucumber into slices, then into fourths, then slice the red onion into very thin ribbons. You can rip some of the larger basil leaves in half, but you’ll want to keep them mostly whole. Throw all ingredients into a serving bowl with chopped parsley, garlic and dill and add the garbanzo beans as well.  Drizzle with one part extra virgin olive oil to two parts balsamic vinegar and enjoy!