Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Spinach-Mushroom Enchiladas

These are my favorite enchiladas yet, and can be made simple or extravagant, depending on how many of the ingredients you choose to make yourself. I'll give it to you both ways!

Spinach-Mushroom Enchiladas
Green Chile Sauce or Red Chile Sauce or canned enchilada sauce
Spicy Cashew Cheese Spread or 1 package Daiya vegan cheese shreds, any flavor
1 - 2 dozen organic corn tortillas (depending on the size of your baking pan)
1/2 pound spinach, chopped
1 can garbanzo beans
1/4 cup raw shelled sunflower seeds
1 can black olives, sliced
3 - 4 large portobello mushrooms, sliced about 1/2 inch thick
Cashew Sour Cream (recipe below) or store bought vegan sour cream

Once you've rounded up all your ingredients, assembly is a snap.
Place a pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350º.
Mash the garbanzo beans with a fork, and stir in the sunflower seeds.
Coat the bottom of your baking dish with sauce.
Place one layer of tortillas on the sauce.
(I cut my tortillas in half so they'll fit to the edges of the pan. 4 tortillas per layer in my 8x11" pan.)

Spread more sauce over the tortillas.
Spread or sprinkle cheese.
Layer spinach, beans-seeds, olives, and mushrooms.
Add more sauce, and repeat the layering process one more time, starting with tortillas.
Top with a final layer of tortillas, and a generous amount of sauce.

Bake at 350º for about 45 minutes. The pan of water helps keep the top tortillas from drying out.
Let sit a few minutes before cutting. Garnish with extra toppings if you like, and serve with Cashew Sour Cream and salad.

Cashew Sour Cream
1 cup raw cashews, soaked 20 minutes or more, then drained and rinsed
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup almond milk
salt to taste

Blend everything in a food processor or blender until very smooth, adding more milk as needed to get the consistency you want.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Green Chile

When asked the Official New Mexico Question, Red or Green?, meaning what kind of chile sauce do you want on your food, you can pick your favorite, or choose "Christmas" and sample both. I was a Green girl for years, but then switched over to Red for some reason. I got my Red Chile recipe down to the way we like it at our house, but somehow never got around to making a Green version. Well, I'm happy to report that I've taken care of that oversight, and have a nice, easy Green to share with you now.

The green chiles we use here are grown in Hatch, New Mexico. I hear you can get them in the fall in other parts of the country now, and can even have them roasted in the store's parking lot, just like we do here in Taos. If you don't have fresh chiles (or a freezer full of them, stashed in September), look for frozen chiles at your market, or if all else fails, use canned chiles.

As with Red, there are as many variations of Green as there are cooks who make it. I go for a semi-traditional version, but leave out the oil and chicken stock that are often added. Some restaurants even put meat in their Chile, but why? The chiles have so much wonderful flavor on their own, they need very little help to become one of my two favorite sauces. Red or Green? These days I'm a Christmas girl!

Green Chile
1 onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup flour, mixed with 1 cup water
4 cups vegetable broth
2 cups chopped Hatch green chiles
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp dry oregano
salt to taste

Steam-fry the onion and garlic in a little water, over medium heat, for about 3 minutes.
Add the flour/water mixture, and cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
Add the broth, chiles, cumin, and oregano.
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.
Blend with an immersion blender, or leave the sauce chunky if you prefer.
Add salt to taste.

Coming up Wednesday - an enchilada recipe that goes great with this Green!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Animal Rescue Cards at Crankbunny

I love Crankbunny. They make some of the coolest cards on the market, says me, as well as nifty paper puppets and "other goodies." They have three dandy dog cards, the sales of which go to animal rescue organizations. I like that a lot. Check out the pop-up pups, and snap one up for your favorite dog-lovin' Valentine.

Go Crankbunny!!!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Subversive Veganism

I have a friend who keeps McDonald's gift certificates in her car, to give to people who ask her for money "for food." I like the idea, but obviously can't support a burger chain, so I've taken to carrying a peanut butter sandwich along with me when I go into town, just in case I run across someone who's hungry. All questions aside about whether the guy in the hardware store parking lot really wants food, or prefers cash for something less life affirming. I just want to be ready, without pause for judgement, when a fellow human asks me for help. I can offer food. And when I supply a simple meatless meal like a humble but wonderful PB and J, I'm doing two good things in one. First, I feed someone, which is one of the main things I think I'm here for, and then, by giving them plant based food, I also eliminate a potential meaty meal they might have eaten otherwise.

I do this with our friends too, on another level, by inviting them over for dinner fairly often. I kind of hesitate to admit this here, in case any of those friends should read this, and stop accepting my invitations. I think they're better than that though, and that's why I call them friends. And even if they know what I'm up to, I think they truly like coming here. Anyone who eats at my house gets a beautiful (vegan) meal that replaces one of their regular meals - at least theoretically. Maybe some of them stop for a burger on their way home, but I hope not, and I think not. So really, when I have people over for dinner, I take the meat out of that meal for them, and sweetly, kind of subversively, turn them into "one-meal vegans." It's all for the common good, and everybody wins. I get to cook for people I care about, and serve them something filled with love and healthy goodness. They get a tasty meal they wouldn't normally make for themselves, along with an evening at our house, which everyone seems to enjoy. More animals are spared than if I cooked just for Rick and myself, fewer resources are used, and everyone goes home happy.

Sneaky? Maybe a little. But so what? I'm out to make things better for all concerned, but I've pretty much given up evangelizing about why my friends should follow me down the vegan path. I know where that will get me. Nowhere for sure, and probably with fewer friends. But by simply feeding people, I'm actually able to extend my own vegan reach. Every meatless meal I serve to someone else means one less meat-filled meal they might consume, and that's a good thing. Subversive Veganism has its place, and I'm all for exploring the possibilities. PB and J anyone? Meet me in the parking lot.

Monday, January 21, 2013


There's really no reason to buy expensive tubs of salsa from the store when you can so easily make it yourself, fresh and wonderful, and spiced just the way you like it. Also known as pico de gallo ("rooster's beak" - hmmm), or salsa fresca, this is something I like to keep on hand most of the time. It's great as a dip, sure, but I also like it on salads, nachos, pizzas, and even as a zippy bruschetta topping.


3 large roma tomatoes, chopped small - about 2 cups
1/2 red onion, diced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 fresh jalapeño, diced
juice of 1 lime
red pepper flakes
garlic powder

Stir everything together in a bowl, adding the seasonings to taste. Leave it as-is, or blend half and stir it back in with the unblended portion, which is what I did here. Open a fresh bag of organic tortilla chips, shake up a margarita, and meet me on the patio!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Tomato Bruschetta

Bruschetta is one of those things that doesn't really need a recipe, but if you've never made it, it helps to have a little nudge in the right direction. You can use all sorts of things for toppings, like tomatoes, mushrooms, beans, or any other veggies you might have on hand. I made this garlicky tomato version last night, and when a friend walked in the door, she sniffed the air and said, Mmmmmm, smells like a pizza place in here. That's always a good thing.

Tomato Bruschetta
makes 8 pieces as shown

2 roma tomatoes, chopped
1/2 can (or about 3/4 cup) black olives, chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced
1-2 T fresh basil, chopped
2 T pine nuts - optional

4 large slices of crusty whole grain bread, cut in half
olive oil - optional

salt - optional

Mix together the tomatoes, olives, garlic, basil, and pine nuts.

If you're using olive oil, brush or spray one side of the bread, and toast it in the oven for a few minutes, until it's as crispy as you like it. A toaster oven is great for this.

Top the bread with the tomato mixture, and place under the broiler for 4-5 minutes, or leave it cold if you prefer. Top with a sprinkle of salt if you like. My absolute favorite for this (and lots of other dishes) is a Hand Harvested Mediterranean Sea Salt with Herbs, which I've only been able to find on the Hot Paella website. It's well worth the price.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

I Like Laika

I just got the premier issue of Laika Magazine, and right off the bat, I'm smitten. It's really beautiful, but it's more of a vegan lifestyle magazine than a fashion magazine, so it has something of interest for just about anyone. It includes cruelty-free fashion, cool new products, food, animal rights stories, and articles about interesting people who just happen to be vegan. I want to support such a publication. I like their style, and I want them to continue. Visit their website at: Laika Magazine, and subscribe to this lovely, vibrant, thoughtful quarterly here.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Cream of Mushroom Soup

This is an elegant soup, perfect for a first course when you want to show off without working too hard. Or go for a great big bowl full and call it dinner, because a little taste just might not be enough.

Cream of Mushroom Soup

1 cup raw cashews, soaked 20 minutes or longer, then drained and rinsed
1 pound mushrooms, coarsely chopped (I used baby portabellas and button mushrooms)
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 T herbs de provence
4 cups vegetable or mushroom broth
1/2 cup vodka or white wine
1/4 cup tamari
salt and pepper to taste

If you like some bits of mushrooms in your creamy soup, set aside a cup or so of the chopped mushrooms, and chop them finer, to add in after the blending step.

In a large soup pot, steam-fry the mushrooms, onion, garlic, and herbs in a few tablespoons of water, over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. Add a little more water if things start to stick.
Add the cashews, broth, vodka, and tamari. Bring to a boil, and simmer for 5-10 minutes.
Carefully ladle the soup into a blender and blend on high speed until smooth. Do this in 3 or 4 small batches.
Return the blended soup to the stove, over low heat, and thin with water, broth, or nut milk if necessary.
Add the finely chopped mushrooms if you've set them aside, and heat for a few more minutes.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.

A note about blenders: Blending hot liquids is a little bit tricky. Be careful. Always place a dish towel over the lid of the blender, and hold it on while you blend. I have a regular old blender that's on it's last legs. I had to buy a new base cap for it, but it doesn't fit right. As I was attempting to blend this soup, the cap came loose and I had a hot mushroom mess all over the counter. In search of Divine Intervention, I said, Hey God, I really think it's time I had a Vitamix, don't you? The immediate response was, Sure, it's on it's way... but in the meantime, why don't you get an immersion blender? 

Well, of course! I ordered one from Amazon for around $30 (rather than the $500 or so for a Vitamix), which I'll tell you all about once I've tried it out. If you have one, you're way ahead of me, and I imagine you've already thought to use it to blend this soup right in the pot. If not, take a tip from God and save yourself a lot of trouble and mess.

Friday, January 11, 2013


I was recently invited to sign on as a Vegan Expert on Wizpert. Never heard of it? I hadn't either, so I did some checking. Wizpert is a place where you can instantly chat with "experts" on just about any topic you can think of. As I write this, experts are available, this very moment, in the categories of health and fitness, technology, leisure, learning, home and garden, business, and life. The experts come and go on their own schedules, so you never know who you'll find when you log in. All chatting is done via Skype Chat (not visual Skype), so you don't have to do your hair and makeup just to ask a question or two. You simply click on the expert you want to talk to, and in seconds you're connected by Skype and can start asking advice from someone who (probably) knows what they're talking about. Most of the service is free, but once an expert has enough time and good reviews in, they can start charging for their time. It seems pretty great from all sides, as far as I can tell.

How expert are the experts? There's no way to tell. Take me for example. I'm not a certified anything, but I probably know more than a lot of people about vegan cooking and nutrition. I can certainly answer the usual key questions, and steer you in the right direction if I don't know something you want to know. Check out the experts you want to talk to. Read their profiles and blogs and websites, and check the facts when they give you advice. I think Wizpert is a great starting point, and my first advice is to use it as that.

I've signed up and created a profile page, and try to make myself available whenever I'm at the computer anyway. If you'd like to chat with me, I'd love to hear from you. You'll find me on Wizpert under Health and Fitness / Nutrition / Vegan. You can also shortcut directly to me via this link. I'm happy to help you if I can, and so are lots of other people.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

One New Habit

You hear it all the time - when trying to change diet or lifestyle habits, it really helps to replace what's being left behind with something new. From a vegan standpoint, that would mean finding new substitutes for all the animal foods you're cutting out of your diet. It's not as hard as you might think. There are plenty of good vegan alternatives to things like cheese, milk, and meat. The trick is to do it in a way that's healthier than your former omnivorous diet. It's certainly possible to be a junk food vegan, and to gulp down all sorts of health-compromising fats, sugars, additives, and chemicals. Just because something is vegan doesn't automatically mean it's good for you. But still, you're better off ditching the meat and dairy, no matter what you replace them with, especially in the beginning.

Processed foods are the bad guys here, but I know it's hard to always eat whole plant foods, cooked at home. I'm writing a small and simple book to help make that easier, but for now I'll offer just one new habit that can really make a difference in your healthy diet. Rather than obsessing over what you want out of your diet, add more of what you want in it.

I'm always saying, "Eat your greens," and that's just what I'm talking about here. Eat your greens, and eat lots of them. Eat salads, drink green smoothies, and add greens to almost every dish you cook. If you eat the good stuff first, it will begin to displace the bad stuff, meaning you'll eat less and less of it. You'll also find that the more whole, good food you eat, the less you like the processed foods. Your body knows what it wants and needs, and when we listen, it's happy to tell us about it.

That's it. One New Habit for 2013. It's an easy one, and it can snowball into big life changes. Eat your greens, my friends. Simply eat your greens. Then if you still want Oreos and Fritos, go ahead, but I bet it won't be long before the greens nudge them aside, and right out of the picture.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Cream of Broccoli Soup

We go through a lot of broccoli around here, but usually the pretty little tops are what get used in stir-frys and such, leaving the stalks feeling unloved. My dogs come begging for them, but there's really only so much broccoli you should feed a dog... if you know what I mean. My solution is to save up three or four bunches worth of stalks, and make soup out of them. I love how nothing goes to waste, and we get a beautiful, creamy, slightly cheesy soup out of the deal. Don't worry - Lucy and Heidi get plenty of snacks.

This is a very mildly flavored soup, so it's perfect to serve to someone who doesn't really care for broccoli. If you have whole broccoli, florets and all, by all means use it. You'll get more brocco-flavor, and a greener color too.

Cream of Broccoli Soup

1 cup raw cashews, soaked and drained
8 cups broccoli stalks, peeled and chopped
1 onion, chopped
4 cups vegetable broth
1 beer
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
2 T miso paste, mixed with a little water
1/4 cup tamari
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/4 tsp white pepper (or to taste)
1-2 cups nut milk, water, or extra broth for thinning

Start the cashews soaking. An hour or more of soak time is ideal, but 15-20 minutes will do.
Scrape off as much of the outside layer of the broccoli stalks as you can, but don't be too finicky.
Chop the broccoli into chunks and set aside. The smaller you chop them, the faster they'll cook.

In a large soup pot, steam-fry the onions in a little bit of water over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes.
Add the 4 cups of broth, the beer, and the chopped broccoli.
Bring to a boil, and cook until soft, adding water if necessary to keep the broccoli covered.
When the broccoli is soft (about 20-30 minutes), add the drained cashews, nutritional yeast, miso, tamari, and garlic powder.
Place the soup in a blender in several small batches, and blend on high speed until smooth, adding water if necessary. You'll need a second soup pot to transfer the blended soup into.
Back on the stove, over low heat, season the blended soup with salt and pepper, and add milk, broth, or water to thin if necessary.

This soup is nice with a dash of hot sauce - my current favorite is Sriracha - and maybe some bread or crackers with a bit of Spicy Cashew Cheese Spread.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Spicy Cashew Cheese Spread

I decided to jazz up my Basic Nut Cheese recipe for New Year's Eve, and this is what resulted - a super smooth, cheesy spread that tastes a lot like a slightly spicy, smoky cheddar. Spread it on crackers, layer it in a sandwich, or thin is down with nut milk to make a cheese sauce for pasta. The use of soaked cashews instead of the original almond pulp is what gives this version its wonderful creaminess.

Spicy Cashew Cheese Spread
1 cup raw cashews, soaked 1 hour or more
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp truffle salt (or regular salt)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp hot smoked paprika
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 T sesame tahini
1 tsp miso
1 T tamari
1 T dijon mustard
1 T apple cider vinegar
almond milk (or any plant milk)

Drain the soaked cashews, and place them in your food processor. Add all other ingredients, except the almond milk. Blend everything well, adding milk a little at a time, and scraping the sides of the bowl every so often, until you have a nice smooth consistency. This cheese will keep in the fridge for a week or more, but I bet you won't have it that long.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

PBS Food Seems to Like Me

A while back the PBS Food Facebook Page used my humble photo of hummus in their header. That was so exciting, I decided to regularly share my food pics over there. The odds of them using mine very often - or ever again - seemed slim, with all the gorgeous food photos out there. But it never hurts to throw a dash of shameless self promotion into the day. Well, I was just posting a nice picture of my Banana Blueberry Muffins, when I glanced at the PBS header, and caught my name in the corner. What a nice surprise! This time they used my photo of Date Balls. Thanks PBS Food, for sharing blatantly vegan dishes on a very omnivorous page. I hope this means that the "V" word is becoming more mainstream every day - one of my many New Year's Wishes.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

BlogHer Green Feature

Good news! BlogHer Green has just featured my box-making tutorial. How cool is that? I love how expanding out from food into other green and vegan areas is opening up doors to new worlds. Thanks BlogHer! Mmmmwaaaaah!

PV Craft Time - How To Make a Box

This year's fridge calendar is by Lenny Foster. Thanks Lenny!
This time of year everyone has a new calendar, which means we also have an old one (or two or three) to take down from the walls and fridge, and wonder what to do with.  We spend a whole year with these beloved collections of images, and then most of us toss them in the trash come January first. Well, don't throw out last year's calendar just yet! And while we're at it, hang onto all your holiday cards and birthday cards too. You can breathe new life into them with just a few folds and snips, and turn them into great little re-used, and re-usable gift boxes. I love this easy, green, vegan-friendly project, and I think you will too. These nifty boxes are easy enough to make with your kids. In fact, it was a nice young man of about 10 years old who taught me to make them.

You'll need to start with an exact square. The calendar I'm using today just happens to have nice square pages. If yours doesn't, it's easy to turn a rectangle into a square. Just follow theses steps:

If you're using a card, cut it in half along the fold. If you have rectangular calendar pages, use two from the same calendar, so they'll be the same size.
Lay one rectangle over the other as shown above, matching up the top and right side edges.
Use the top rectangle as a straight edge, and mark a line on the paper underneath.
You now have a perfect square to cut out, but don't cut it yet!
Lay the paper you've just marked over the one you just used as a straight edge, and repeat the line-drawing process.
Now you have two squares of the same size, ready to cut out.
Cut along the two lines you've drawn.
And now you have two perfect squares, and two rectangular bookmarks, if you want to go that far into re-purposing. And why not?
Okay. Now that you have two nice square pieces of paper, let's make a box. (And I want to apologize for my gnarly old hands. Eek! All those years of beadmaking really took a toll! Note to self: hand lotion before photo shoots, Kim...)

With a straight edge, draw a line from corner to corner, in both directions. The lines don't need to go all the way to the corner edges.
The center of the X is the center of your box, and the lines will be guides for folding.
Start by folding the corner closest to you so the point touches the center of the X.
Fold that side of the paper again, so the first folded edge lines up along the drawn line.
Turn the paper around, and repeat the folding process on the opposite side.
Unfold, and repeat the same folding process two more times, on the two remaining corners.
You'll have a grid of little folded squares like this.
The center area (marked in green) will be the inside center of your box. The lines marked in red are the lines you'll cut. The red triangles will be removed.
Cut along the marked lines, being careful not to cut into the green center section. 
Cut out the red triangles. Repeat 3 more times, on all the red-marked lines.
Your paper should look like this now.
It's Magical Box Assembly Time! Fold the points of the two larger sides to the center of the X.
Fold the tabs of both side up.
Fold up the tabbed sides of the box and hold them together.
Fold one of the flapped ends over the tabbed side.
The flap will hold the tabbed sides together. 
Fold the other flap over the tabs on the other side.
Use a small piece of tape to hold the points together in the center of the finished box.
Make another box half, and put them together as a top and a bottom, or just use one box half as a bowl for small items.
HINT - To make the box bottom easier to fit into the top, let your first folds overlap about 1/8 inch over the center line of the X. Then continue on, using the drawn lines as guides, the same as you would for the box top.
 That's it. Here's what last year's calendar now looks like, beautiful and useful. Many thanks to Kathleen Brennan for 2012's bounty of beautiful images and inspiration.

To see the folding in action, watch the short video below, or on YouTube. Have fun with these!