Kicking Off 2014: A Roundup of Veggie-Centric Dishes

Veggie-Centric Recipes to Kick Off 2014!

Raw Beet and Butternut Slaw

‘Tis the season to renew commitments to health and self. There are hundreds of possible approaches out there, so far be it from us to suggest which one is right for YOU as an individual, as every person has unique needs, but the one thing ANY health centered plan has in common? VEGGIES. Lots and lots and lots of veggies! Whether low-carb or vegan or paleo or vegetarian or primal or flexatarian or Weight Watchers or Dukan or primal or or what-have-you, increasing the amount of nutrient-dense vegetables is just a given.

So rather than zero in one one particular approach, we thought we’d share a collection of veggie-centered (as in made only or primarily from vegetables, with other ingredients as accompaniment only) recipes that would be great for just about any plan, either as-is or with only minor modifications. You’re bound to find something that works for you. Hope some of these find their way into your menu regardless of your chosen approach – or even independent of any “approach”.

Cheers for a healthful New Year!

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Final Cookbook Celebration Day: Hummus Done Three Ways


Dueling Garbanzos: Hummus 3 Ways! From Virgin Vegan: Everyday Recipes

Dueling Garbanzos: Hummus 3 Ways! From Virgin Vegan: Everyday Recipes




The final day of our celebration!

If you’re just tuning in, our new cookbook (our second, the first being “101 Things To Do With Tofu”) is coming out officially TODAY.   Because we both enjoy quite a bit of vegan cooking in the context of our non-vegan lives, we created “Virgin Vegan: Everyday Recipes for Satisfying Your Appetite”. for Gibbs Smith, as part of their Virgin Vegan series. CHECK IT OUT!


So to celebrate, we’ve shared a different recipe from our new baby every day this week – and as of Monday we’ll give away five copies. You can enter each and every day, and we’ll tally up ALL the entries from all 5 posts to select our five winners via Like so:

1. Any single comment counts as an entry all on its own (one per post)
2. Share that day’s recipe post on Facebook
3. Pin it on Pinterest
4. And of course, Tweet it.

Once comment for each of the above actions, as per usual! When you post, please make sure you’re using a valid email address so we can get in touch with you for shipping info.

You can continue to comment and share through Saturday night. We will announce the winner on Monday!

On to today’s sample recipes – a threebie!

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Cuban Pilaf Bowl from Virgin Vegan: Everyday Recipes


Cuban Pilaf Bowl from Virgin Vegan: Everyday Recipes

Cuban Pilaf Bowl from Virgin Vegan: Everyday Recipes


We’re on day three of our celebration! Our second baby is coming out this Friday, a new book full of recipes designed for people new to vegan eating and cooking. Virgin Vegan: Everyday Recipes for Satisfying Your Appetite” is featured with a sample recipe here every day this week, culminating in – what else? – a giveaway. See the end of the post for details.

On to today’s sample recipe!

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Vegetarian Recipe Retrospective: All-Time Faves!

Wholegrain Confetti Zucchini Cakes: Inspired by Crab Cakes

A few days ago, the folks at Veg Online let us know they’ve decided to recognize our site as an Outstanding Vegetarian Blog. We’re especially pleased to hear this, as a blog that is not entirely vegetarian but loves to do a whole LOT of vegetarian cooking.

(Note from Donna: When Anne and I reunited as a birth mother and daughter in 1999, it was cooking that made our reunion so joyful. She was the first vegetarian I knew who was also a phenomenal cook. She and I shared our love of cooking and bonded over my kitchen stove. We spent long hours well into the wee hours of the mornings getting to know each other and sharing our best recipes. And the rest, as they say, is history!)

We’ve always been big fans of the Meatless Monday concept and site, and our first cookbook was entirely vegetarian. In case you missed the memo, this was our first collaboration:

Our first cookbook!

And this is where the famous Ultimate Veggie Chili made its debut, eventually earning us a spot on Food Network’s Ultimate Recipe Showdown (title of recipe preceded show, just a fortuitous coincidence).

So we thought it was a perfect time to share some of our favorite vegetarian and vegan creations from the past 3 years (!) in our blogging life. Read on . . .

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Meatless Mardi Gras Muffuletta Makeover!

Meatless Muffuletta

Yes, that adds up to “Mmmm”.

Mardi Gras is coming up next week (yes, already)!  I’ve loved New Orleans cuisine from the very first bite of gumbo I had. Truly, I can’t think of a dish I haven’t liked. So every year around Fat Tuesday, I like to take advantage of the excuse to revisit favorites – and try new experiments too.

This Cajun classic sandwich (famously originating at Central Grocery on New Orleans’ Dekatur Street) does unbelievably well with a vegan revamp. Normally it’s served with cold cuts and cheese as the center – but the olive salad, with extra time given for the delicious dressing to permeate the bread, is really the star. A perfect candidate for a Meatless Monday-style Makeover! …

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Gluten-free Vegan Holiday Cookies: Hazelnut Espresso Shortbread

Hazelnut Espresso Shortbread (That's pre-slicing, not one big piece, though one could hardly blame you for hoping.)

Gluten-free Vegan Christmas Cookie Series, part 1 of 3: Holiday Hazelnut Espresso Shortbread

Forgive me for crowing about this one a little, but this is a triumph. Just the other day, while working on a biscotti recipe, I was lamenting how difficult it can be to convert recipes to gluten-free AND vegan at the same time; one at a time,  often manageable enough, but together, they can create some serious issues, texture in particular. (I eventually worked out the biscotti, as you’ll see in the next post.)

This heavenly shortbread, originally discovered on Epicurious, had been a regular in my holiday lineup for years until I gave up the gluten in 2008, and I can’t say how pleased I am with this version, rendered gluten, dairy and egg-free. I love the way this comes together in the food processor, too.  If you try only one of our holiday recipes this year, please try this one*. …

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Wilted Spinach Salad with Thai Peanut Vinaigrette

It’s strange. I don’t like peanut butter, but a good spicy Thai peanut sauce is one of my favorite things. I love it drizzled on just about everything and I discovered that it is a fabulous flavor pair with spinach. This recipe is re-worked to make it low-glycemic and vegan.Spinach is one of the healthiest things you can put in your mouth – calorie for calorie dark greens have the most nutrients of any food! We should all eat it every day!

I always had trouble making good peanut sauce until it finally dawned on me: to have really good Thai peanut sauce, you must start with really good peanut butter. It was one of those “Duh” moments for me!  It is a little more expensive, but you only use a little and it is well worth it. I like the all-natural “dark roasted” style with only two ingredients: salt and peanuts. I made this recipe with the idea of serving it cold on salads, so it is more like a vinaigrette than a sauce you would serve warm with chicken. I must admit that I tried to mimic Trader Joe’s Peanut Vinaigrette, which is also good BUT mine turned out even better – fresher tasting and more of a flavor punch!

I very lightly and briefly sauteed some rough chopped spinach for less than a minute until it just barely started to wilt. You could also blanch it quickly in boiling water. I then drained it and drizzled it with peanut vinaigrette, and sprinkled it with some diced roasted peanuts. Wow! Such an explosion of flavors!

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Roasted Vegetable Paella Primavera

Roasted veggies in Paella form.Vegetable paella

Virtuous. Flavorful. Pretty. All good things in Paella form.

Boy, do we have a treat for you today. I (Anne) am currently in town visiting Donna, and as is our habit, we’re cooking up a storm. Sunday dinners are always some of the best blowouts, and given that today was also Valentine’s Day, with a good crowd coming over to boot, we wanted to go all out. We were already planning on Donna’s My Heart Beets For You salad, plus the glorious Julia Child chocolate almond masterpiece for dessert, but what to do for an entree?

I suggested artichoke hearts, in keeping with the Valentine holiday spirit, and then came around to the paella plan for this week’s Meatless Monday. We decided to combine two approaches: the first was from The Perfect Pantry – we loved the combination of veggies (featuring artichoke hearts) as well as the spicy garlic finishing sauce. We also really like Mark Bittman’s approach to vegetarian paella, as featured in “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian”, wherein the vegetables are not cooked into the rice mixture stovetop but later roasted on top of the rice in the oven – the juices from the vegetables drip down into the rice mixture and get nice caramelization to boot. The pan is then returned to the stovetop to finish, creating the lovely crust on the bottom that is known as “soccarat”.

So we married the two approaches and tweaked it with a few of our own touches as we went. The result was pretty magnificent, if I dare say so myself. If you think paella is incomplete without an assortment of meats, we implore you to give this a try.

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Braised Red Cabbage a la Top Chef – on a budget

With yesterday’s AMAZING Brussels sprouts slaw, it seems to be Cruciferous Veggie Week around here. Perhaps some broccoli and cauliflower coming up?  Anyway, on to today’s recipe from the archives. It doesn’t sound very sexy, but I thought it was just delicious. I adapted this from a Top Chef recipe, in fact! I saw contestant Stefan Richter (kind of the villain of the show, but undeniably talented) from the most recent season make this and was intrigued by the concept. So I snagged Stefan’s original recipe from the Bravo site, did a little tinkering, omitting more expensive ingredients like rendered duck fat, and simplifying it a bit, and voila.

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Fruitcake Without Fear

Its not so scary.

It's not so scary.

“It just doesn’t add up! Fruit = good. Cake = great. Fruitcake = nasty crap.”   — Jim Gaffigan

Okay, I have to be honest, I really have never liked it before, but after reading this from Adventures in Crunchy Parenthood:

Now before you go telling me how nasty fruitcake is, let me tell you a little secret: there are two kinds of fruitcake. The one you are thinking of is the one with all the little candied fruit bits that have a weird flavor. Granted, it does have a weird flavor, but honestly, I love that kind too (don’t ask me why). But what you are really missing out on is REAL fruitcake. The fruitcake most people know today is full of little processed, candied fruits which have a flavoring called citron added to them. That’s the weird/gross/funny taste most people complain about. REAL fruitcake is made with just plain dried fruits and nuts, and can be customized to suit your particular tastes.

. . . as well as this from the esteemed Noble Pig, I decided to try making one that I might actually like, focusing on dried fruits I actually like, like dates and pineapples and such. Lo and behold, it really is a whole different experience! …

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