Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Banana Ginger Pops with RECIPE!!

It’s Tuesday, and that means there is a new recipe! And yes, it is another vegan Zoku recipe, but you can use this with any kind of ice pop mold that you want. You can even use really small paper cups, cover with plastic and poke a popsicle stick through. This recipe was instantly my favorite of all time. It is based on a smoothie that Jason created and I worked with. When you first see this, you may think that it is a lot of ginger, but remember that freezing dulls some of the flavor. This pop has a punch of spice, a sweetness, and a creamy texture. Remember, use a heavily spotted banana. Bananas in this country are picked green in another country, brought here, and gassed to have them ripen. However, the fruit inside does not fully ripen until the outside is spotted with black. What we think of as overripe is just barely ripe in other countries.

Ginger Banana Zoku Pops

Makes 6 Zoku pops or 2 cups of mixture

1 very ripe medium sized banana
1 cup of vegan milk (I used Trader Joes’ Almond Milk)
1 tablespoon agave nectar (I used raw)
2 tablespoons of grated ginger
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon allspice
¼ cup of raw cashews
½ teaspoon guar gum

Blend all ingredients and freeze according to the manufacture’s direction of your ice pop maker.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Tofu Lettuce Wraps

I eat out a lot with my mother-in-law, Patti. She is vegetarian and I am vegan, which really does limit the amount of places you can go, especially in Glendale. One place we have gone is PF Chang's, where I get the tofu lettuce wraps. Lately, though, I leave and I am full, but within an hour I am hungry and often sleepy.

Wanting my fix of tofu wrap goodness, I set out to make my own. I used super firm tofu, crimini mushrooms, cashews, and green onions in addition to spices, seasoning, and love. This is what I created! It was healthier and tastier than the ones from the restaurant, and a whole lot less expensive.

If you have a favorite dish from a restaurant, create it at home! If you have a favorite dish from an omnivore past, veganize it! What you eat is up to you, and only you know what you love.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Hot Wing Pizza

Last night I created fire! Actually, I made my hot wing pizza. It was amazing! Everyone devoured it, and both vegans and omnivores raved with equal joy about it. The garlic crust was the right choice – it added another layer of flavor without being annoying. I just sent my recipe off to the Vegan Culinary Experience, so if you get the magazine, you will be able to create this delicious devilish bite.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Cookbook Shelves

I went to the bookstore with Jason. Recently, due to Jason giving me a much needed break from teaching, I have fallen in love with food of all types again, and cookbooks. Therefore, the second we hit the door I happily went to camp in the cookbook section. I found three books I will be adding to the collection. Two are on making doughnuts. Now I just need to locate our deep fryer and some willing test subjects. Bwah-ha-ha!


While I was looking, I came across a book I thought I had. That meant when I got home, I started scouring the cookbook shelves. I was unprepared for what I found. I found a ton of memories on those shelves.

I found Wookie Cookies. This was the first cookbook I ever got for Jason when we were dating. It is cute because I inscribed it to him, without knowing he likes his cookbooks permanently mint. To his credit, he never said a word about me writing in it. I love that book.

Tropical Vegan and Vegan Soul Food are the first and second cookbooks Jason bought for me.  Right after our first date, he bought Vegan Soul Food for me because it was on my wish list, but I had bought it the day before because I wanted to impress this sexy new Chef I met. We have both copies still, a testament to the fact that great minds think alike. Jason followed that up with the Tropical Vegan book as a gift. I had a hard time finding the ingredients for it in Flagstaff, but by then it was our fourth date and I was spending a lot of time in Phoenix, anyway.

Others, like Veganomicon, How it All Vegan and My Sweet Vegan come from a time when I was the only vegan I knew. Isolated and alone, I bought every vegan cookbook that came on the market because it was a way to know that I was not alone. I have a ton of cookbooks from that time, and they have sad and beautiful memories on every page.

Now, there are many more memories. My favorite vegan cookbook is the 21 Day Kick Start to Weight Loss. Jason did all the recipes for that book and it became a New York Times Bestseller. I started teaching our local classes because he needed time off to write, and now I am the regular teacher. But every time I see that book, I remember Jason’s look on concentration as he stared at his old Toshiba laptop and typed like his life depended on it.

New cookbook memories come usually about once a week, because we add them quickly. Some will be powerful memories, and some will make less of a mark. All will be artifacts of the amazing journey I am on with the person I love the most.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tuesday Recipe Time!!

I can’t stop. I might need to find some form of 12 step program. I cannot stop using my Zoku. Since Patti got it for me, I have been making at least a batch of six pops a day, and I am thinking about getting another set of sticks and another case so I can ramp up production. All this might have something to do with the fact it is 110 degrees here, and the Zoku makes pops that are low calorie, light, and refreshing. Of course, it does not do this on its own, it needs you there to pour in the mixtures, inset the pop sticks, and talk to it lovingly while it freezes them for you. Wait, you don’t need to do that last part?

Today I made yet another batch, and they were the best yet, according to Jason. My husband gets lots of credits for being my brave Zoku tester. Even my bachelor friends are super excited. I showed them the case and told them they could help themselves. There were lots of happy faces for that! After all, what is better than playing a great role playing game and nibbling an icy treat?

If you don’t have a Zoku, don’t worry. You can use these recipes with any ice pop mold. There are some great ones out there that are BPA free. The biggest adjustment is how many pops it will make, and that changes how many calories each Zoku is. One mold that seems to be about the same size is the KidCo mold from Amazon, but I have not tried it so I do not know for sure. Here is a link if you want to check it out. http://www.amazon.com/Kidco-Healthy-Snack-Frozen-Treat/dp/B0012S9D4S/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_nC?ie=UTF8&colid=37T685KR2YA8A&coliid=I1IJ4SFC47O376

Today’s recipe makes about 7 Zoku pops. Jason and I just drank the leftover, ended up with six pops, and we were happy.  By the way, if you look at the picture, the mold isn’t defective, I just bit into it before I took a picture, because I didn’t want to wait another 30 seconds. :<

Peach Orange Cream Bars

1 6 oz container of vegan Peach yogurt

1 cup of organic orange juice (I like unpasteurized)

1 tablespoon agave nectar

½ teaspoon guar gum

¼ cup soy coffee creamer

Place all ingredients in a blender. Blend. Use with your Zoku according to manufacturer’s directions. Makes 6-7.

About 60 calories each, with 1 gram of protein and about 1 gram of fiber.

NOTE: The guar gum will be in the baking section of the health food store, or you can grab it online. It is a little bit of an investment, but one bag will last you for years and years. By adding it to the mix, you are adding fiber (1 teaspoon = 9 grams fiber) and it helps reduce the ice crystals, which results in a creamer pop. You can skip it, but your ice pop will be harder and less creamy if you do.

Hope you are enjoying my Zoku adventures. Don’t worry, upcoming blogs will eventually feature things that are not icy little treats of joy, but right now I can’t get enough.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Berry Cherry Pops with Recipe!

I did it! I made my first pops with the Zoku! I was scared and worried that I would mess it up, but I didn’t. The thing that seems to be the key is using all your senses. After nine minutes, my pops were not quite ready, so I waited an extra five minutes, and they were more than ready! Using the removal tool was also odd, until I read the directions and suddenly, it was there! My ice pop! I was so excited. I got the idea to try making one that was healthy and low calorie. I love how these turned out.

P.S. You don’t have to add the liquid vitamins, but the ones I have are drops that are sweet and fruity tasting. They do not use any artificial sweetener, so I just placed a few drops in the blender with everything else. It blended right in and I just got an extra little dose of vites!

P.P.S. These gave me an awesome bust of energy and made me want a healthy dinner or some weird reason. And another ice pop. That isn’t weird. These are good.

Berry Pineapple Pops

Makes 6 zoku sized pops

½ cup of pineapple

½ cup of mixed berries

1 cup of cherry cider

¼ teaspoon of guar gum

Liquid vitamins (B12, D, and Folic Acid)

Blend all ingredients in the blender until smooth. This will take about 2-3 minutes. Pour into ice pop mold. If using a zoku, this will make 6 pops.

Best of all, these are about 40 calories each, with 2 grams of fiber and they have vitamins! Talk about a great way to satisfy your late night cravings. Also, I got most of my ingredients at Trader Joes. The entire batch cost way less than $1.00, so they are tasty and inexpensive!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

I have a Zoku!


I am excited almost beyond words! This afternoon my wonderful mother-in-law, Patti got me a Zoku ice pop maker for my birthday. I went back and grabbed a few accessories, including a case and tools. Now my mind is racing with a thousand flavor combinations. I have planed peanut butter and chocolate pops, chai latte pops, and lots of frozen fruit pops. I picked up some cherry cider from Trader Joes that will find its way into that ice pop mold. I think the flavors are endless, and the best thing is I get to take pictures and post recipes up here!

 So far, the actual Zoku looks easy to use. It does say on the website and some blogs that thick mixtures or mixtures with low sugar do not do very well. Therefore, I am going to get a backup, plain old ice pop mold from Amazon, too. I love the idea of making food for my loved ones, including icy treats.

The mold will be ready to use tomorrow, because you have to freeze it overnight. The first one I am thinking of making is Mojito so I will let you know how those work out.

Yay! Off to plan recipes!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Tomato Olive Pizza

I did it! Today Jason taught class for me, so I stayed at home and got in the kitchen. I made this heirloom tomato olive pizza sprinkled with fresh basil. The crust is a flavored crust of chili and roasted garlic. The full recipes will be in the next issue of the Vegan Culinary Experience. Also, since my recipe made two crusts and it is just Jason and I, made breadsticks out of the other crust and gave them away. Yay!

I also used the organic onion flowers from the Farmer's Market to make biscuits, but I need to have something to talk about tomorrow. :>

Heirloom Tomatoes and Plans

First off, I want to offer a huge thank you to everyone who has started following the blog, or shared this on Facebook! I really appreciate it. I love that salad and I am glad that you all do, too.

Tomorrow I officially make my first recipe for the new issue of Vegan Culinary Experience, which is a roasted garlic chili pizza crust. It will be tasty all on its own, or cut into breadsticks, but I also have a rainbow of heirloom tomatoes that are delicious, perfect and ready to use. I think I will add olives and basil to make it sing with flavor.

I am also going to work on some onion blossom biscuits for my sandwich book. I found the most beautiful onion blossoms at the Farmers Market Downtown, and this is where the vast majority is going. After all, you can use plain bread for sandwiches, but why when you can make something that wonderful?

But I have no pictures of these things yet since I am making them tomorrow, so I will leave you with a little tease of a delicious pasta I made last month with flavor profiles very much like the pizza I am making. It had yellow tomatoes from our garden, kalamata olives, smoked chili flakes and fresh organic basil. It was fresh, delicious, quick and easy, just how I like my food.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Peanut Noodle Salad

It’s Tuesday, and that means it is recipe time! I made this for the meal service this last week, and I loved how it turned out. I served the leftovers the last night, and Jason and I devoured every last bite. Great stuff. Hopefully this inspires you to get in the kitchen!

P.S. if you can’t find thin rice noodles, use thicker ones and soak them longer, or mung bean noodles.

Peanut Noodle Salad

Makes dinner for 2

2 small packages of thin rice noodles, uncooked or 2 cups cooked

4-6 green onions

1 cup of spring peas

3 carrots, shredded

½ an English cucumber

½ cup of chopped peanuts

¼ cup of peanut butter

1 tablespoon of soy sauce

1 tablespoon agave

2 tablespoons of rice vinegar

About 2 tablespoons of lime juice

8-10 basil leaves

If the rice noodles are uncooked, boil water and soak the rice noodles for about 5 minutes, until soft. Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, rice vinegar, agave, lime juice, and soy sauce. Once smooth, set to the side. Remove the ends from the green onions, dice. Slice the green pea pods thinly. Shred the carrots. Remove the ends from the English cucumbers, and dice. Add the rice noodles to the peanut butter mixture, and toss. Add all the ingredients and toss. Chiffonade the basil leaves, and sprinkle on top. Serve.


It’s official! As of tomorrow I am working on my contributions for the next issue of the Vegan Culinary Experience. It will be a delicious cornucopia of pizza, from cover to cover. I have been jotting notes on at least a half a dozen delicious pizzas to make for it. I love pizza, in all its forms. The picture is one that I made for our game night last month, with beautiful yellow tomatoes from our own garden.

Pizzas are something that here in America we often just buy at the local corner fast food, which is a shame. Those pizzas are cardboard, unhealthy, boring, and have more saturated fat than our Dungeons and Dragons character Voluna the Templar. But, with just a little effort you can make wonderful, healthy, delicious pizzas at home, even if all you have is a standard oven.

If I have you curious or hungry, or both, start counting down to the next issue of VCE!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Farmer’s Market

This week, Jason and I started a new tradition. On weeks when he is in town, we are going to start traveling to some of the many Farmers’ markets around town. We started off with one in downtown Phoenix. It is getting hot here, so perhaps that was why it was smaller than I expected. There were only about 6 or so booths with vegetables in the whole market. Some of those had veggies that looked questionable at best, so that narrowed down the field more.

Still, there were good and tasty things to be purchased. We bought some greens, beets (golden and organic), some heirloom tomatoes, and had samples of salts and dates. We also found two bottles of local wine to be savored for our 3rd dating anniversary, coming up in a few weeks.

When we got home, I was hungry so I made a salad. I used BBQ seitan from Trader Joes, a little salad dressing, a little BBQ sauce and went to town with the other ingredients. It was both light and filling, and less than 200 calories.  

Next time you’re bored and have time, see what activities you can do to inspire you with food. Have you been to the market to just look around? Do you find veggies beautiful? What makes you want to play with food, or make great salads?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Food for Friends

I know that many of you who read my blog know I am a gamer, and several of you are gamers, too. Typical game food has not evolved much out of the realms of college dorm rooms – beer, pizza (purchased on sale at Dominos or Pizza Hut), and sometimes Taco Bell. Jason and I are trying to change what it means to have ‘game food’. The food we serve to our friends on Game Night is healthy, delicious, and fresh.

Friday once a month, we have board game night were our friends come to hang out, play a few games, and have some munchies. This was my month to cook, so I made an olive sun sandwich with kalamata olive bread and sun dried tomato tapenade, ‘meatball’ subs with yellow tomato sauce Jason made with tomatoes from our garden, sprinkled with fresh basil and green olives stuffed with garlic. On the side I had a simple salad of organic baby greens and a melon salad sprinkles with lime juice and mint.

None of our gamer friends are vegan, but people know good food when they see it. Our friends snapped up dinner, plate after plate (Jason and I ate more than one plate, too). When you are having friends over, if you’re vegan, don’t worry about what your friends will eat. Just give them delicious food made with love and have fun! That is what food is for – fueling good times.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Star Wars!

I love food, and I love Star Wars. Behold my new Star Wars lunch box with sandwich cutters. I plan on using these cutters for cookies, sandwiches, and even pizza after it is cooked! Look for that in the upcoming issue of the Vegan Culinary Experience.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Banana Bread

Hi Everyone! I know everyone has their own recipe for banana bread, but this one is mine. It makes great sandwiches, isn't too sweet, and isn't dense or wet like some other recipes out there.

Banana Bread

Makes 1 loaf

½ cup of granulated sugar

¼ cup of packed brown sugar

½ cup of vegan butter, room temperature

2 medium mashed bananas

2/3 cup of vegan milk

1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon almond extract

2 cups of all purpose flour

½ cup of chopped walnuts

1 tablespoon corn starch

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon oil

Select a 8X4 or 9X5 baking dish. Use the ½ teaspoon of oil the coat the bottom of the dish. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the apple cider vinegar and vegan milk. Set to the side. Use a mixer to combine the granulated sugar, the brown sugar, and the vegan butter. Beat until light and fluffy. Add the bananas and mix until combined. Add the vegan milk/apple cider combination, along with the vanilla and almond extract. In a separate bowl, add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, corn starch and walnuts. Combine. Then add the dry mixture slowly to the wet mixture. Place in the baking ban, and bake at 350 degrees for about 60-70 minutes, until a toothpick placed in the middle comes out clean. Remove from heat and cool before removing from the pan or slicing.

Monday, May 7, 2012


One of the major reasons I love food is because I love life. It sounds cliché, but it is also true. Food nourishes the body and soul. Today I was out delivering the mea service and I had a few things that knocked me on my booty and made me think. As I was getting food to my friend Fred, he told me about a medical mistake that his doctor did that caused Fred to spend five days in the hospital. Instead of getting mad, Fred just wanted to be calm and learn from the experience. He’s a better soul than me, I would be pi$$ed. I also saw how much a vegan diet has helped him heal, and that inspired me to get back in the kitchen and create more.

Then I was getting food to our customer Steve. It’s almost 95 in Phoenix today and my black car was not terribly cooler inside. I was thinking about how much I hate Phoenix this time of year when I looked across the street and saw it was irrigation day in the neighborhood. There are no lakes or even ponds anywhere near where I was, but there was a couple of ducks, a male and female, playing in the three inches of water that the neighbor had on his grass. They were quacking , walking around, helping themselves to bugs that were coming out of the ground and in general, being cute as anything. They were finding the joy in a bad situation they were not designed for, but still making a go.

So if I can’t be inspired today, there is something wrong with me! Yes, it is hot and life is not all as I would want it 100% of the time, but I can learn and grow. Then, I just need to find a flooded yard to go play in.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Sunday Update

Today I worked on our meal service with Jason. I made a wonderful pozole, or at least a heavily Madelyned version of one, a nice traditional Mexican soup, and a tasty Stir-Fry with just a hint of all spice, which goes amazing with the flavor profiles of the soy sauce and rice wine vinegar. I’ll get pictures of it all tomorrow and start positing those up.

Also, Jason got me a sandwich press! It is red and shiny and more romantic than roses! He had a bit of a bad day yesterday when the tire on our car blew out (he and the car are ok) so I made him hot grilled sandwiches when he got home. With that press, I am going to start working on the sandwich book more. I have a great idea for a sandwich with grilled pineapple, so look for that coming soon.

Back to work with me. I’ll start getting pictures up tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

French Dip and Tacos

We are getting ready to get together at my house and chow down on wonderful vegan tacos. Jason is treating us with Carnitas and his equally delicious Tacos Veracruz. All Jason's dishes deserve to be capitalized, but these more so. I don't have pictures yet, so you will have to take a look at the French Dip sandwich I made for my new book. There is a mushroom secret to it, inspired by the lastest issue of the Vegan Culinary Experience magazine. I have to say, it was delicious!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

True Comfort Food

Most of the time, food does not have to be complex or difficult to make in order to be warm, comforting, and delicious. I find that comfort food that takes too much time and torture to make is not comforting. Not only will the cook be stressed, but  stress spreads like wildfire. Instead of creating something that takes hours and dirties every pan, pot, and utensil in your kitchen, why not just make food that is easy and delicious?

This potato chorizo soup is simple, but the flavors pop. The sweetness of the peas with the spiciness of the soy chorizo are a wonderful combination. You will be surprised at how complex this dish tastes. Serve with toasted rounds of sourdough and you would have a delightful meal for any day of the week.

Potato Chorizo Soup

Serves 4-6

5-7 medium yukon gold potatoes, about 2 pounds

½ a medium yellow onion

3-4 cloves of garlic

6-8 cups of vegetable broth

12 oz of thawed frozen peas, or cooked fresh peas, organic preferred

12 oz soy chorizo

Salt and pepper to taste

Dice the Yukon gold potatoes. Dice the onion and garlic. In a heavy soup pot, combine all three with the vegetable broth and pepper. Cook on medium for about 20-30 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Blend with an emersion blender, or cool and blend with a blender. Add the peas and soy chorizo. Stir together, taste, and add more salt and pepper as needed. Heat for about 5-10 minutes, to allow the flavors to meld. Serve.