Monthly Archives: August 2012

What I have learned so far . . .

  • When you tell people you are a vegan expect weird looks and people feeling like their way of life is threatened.  Win them over with love and awesome vegan food.  Arguing will never lead to acceptance.  Be prepared for them to ask you why you are a vegan.  Find a way in a condensed form to answer this question without sounding judgmental of their lifestyle.
  • Don’t be a vegan-nazi.  When you are eating out, at a party, or in someone else’s home, do the best you can without making your friends, family, servers, and chefs crazy.  You don’t want to be the person no one wants to invite.
  • Veganized desserts are a good gateway food for non vegans.
  • Offering to bring your own food to a dinner party goes a long way in putting a non vegan host/hostess at ease.
  • Beware of casein.  Casein is a milk protein used in making things like cheese (as well as plastics and adhesives).  Some “veggie” cheeses have casein.  Casein comes from cows, and is therefore, not vegan.  :o)
  • Just because it says it is vegetarian does not in any way make it vegan friendly.  Become an expert in reading labels.
  • When you see an ingredient you have trouble pronouncing or do not know what it is, look it up and make an informed decision before you eat it.
  • Although not healthy, Oreos are in fact vegan! 🙂
  • Whole Foods rocks as a grocery store.  In my home we lovingly call it Vegan Mecca!  Be aware, though, it can be really expensive.
  • There are many vegan processed foods.  These are great, if you are really craving, but please do not make them a staple in your diet.  Fresh wholesome ingredients are amazing in and of themselves.
  • As a vegan, you learn to appreciate vegetables and fruits like you never have.
  • I can eat at almost any restaurant, if they are willing to work with me and see the menu as a springboard of ingredients.
  • Bar-B-Q sauce rocks on a Baked Potato!  Lemon juice works well, too.
  • Shitake mushrooms can be fried in such a way to mimic bacon.  (Had this at a vegan restaurant, Plant, in Ashevile, NC.)  It is the closest thing to good vegan bacon that I have had.
  • Although Daiya Vegan Cheese is highly convenient and good, there are other options.  There is a whole movement of Vegan Artisan Cheeses.  Thinking I am going to learn how to make my own vegan cheese.  Also, if you are making a dish for non vegans that involves cheese, If you by a block of vegan cheese (I love Galaxy’s Vegan Rice Cheddar) and shred it yourself, it looks more like non vegan cheese.
  • Better than Bouillon (the vegan friendly ones) have become staples in our house.
  • Silken Tofu can be used in a myriad of ways.
  • Ener-G Egg Replacer is amazing in baking.
  • Extra Firm Tofu is awesome stir-fried as a protein or used as you would boiled or scrambled eggs.
  • There’s a duo out there who are cooking through and veganizing the entire Betty Crocker Cookbook.  It is because of people like them that I knew I could be a vegan.  You can check them out here:
  • Frozen Vegan shrimp/prawns are completely bizarre and rubbery.  Still learning how to veganize seafood well.
  • There is a huge learning curve to being vegan.  Think of it as an adventure.
  • If you are going to shop for new ingredients like Ener-G egg replacer, Vegan Cheezes, Veganaise, etc.  Google them before you leave the house, so that a) you know what they look like, b) you know what section of the store to look in, c) you can figure out what stores carry them.  (And do not be afraid to ask for help.)
  • Vegan sausage is the best vegan meat I have encountered so far.  Vegan pulled pork is a close second.

Black Bean and Roasted Corn Salad


Black Bean and Roasted Corn Salad 

This recipe is great for summer.  Chris and I do this every year when tomatoes and corn are in season.

(Adapted by my husband, Chris, from a Robert Irvine Recipe from Food Network)



  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 1 pound frozen corn kernels or about 4 ears fresh (do not use canned corn – it becomes gummy)
  • Garlic Powder to taste
  • Onion Powder to taste
  • Pinch of Cayenne Pepper
  • Salt (preferably fresh ground or kosher) and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 (24 total ounces) cans of black beans, drained
  • Fresh Tomato
  • And Fresh ¼ cup of Fresh Cilantro


Preheat Oven to 350 Degrees F.


Cut Corn off Cob.  Sauté Corn in Pan with Canola Oil, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Cayenne Pepper, Salt, and Black Pepper until slightly tender. Place in the oven until roasted (but not dried out) about 10 minutes.


Once you pull the corn out of the oven place in a bowl. Toss with Can of Black Beans. Then toss with simple homemade vinaigrette (see below). Garnish with fresh tomato and cilantro. Then serve. (Makes 4 servings)


Simple Homemade Vinaigrette:


  • ¼ cup of Balsamic or Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1 cup of Canola Oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper


Put vinegar and spices in bowl. Then whisk oil in until it emulsified.


Chris’ Caramel Corn, Veganized


Each year around Christmastime, my hubby, Chris makes Caramel Corn.  Be warned:  it is very addictive and scrumptious!


  • Popcorn kernels (and popcorn popper)
  • 2 c. Brown Sugar
  • 1 c. Vegan Butter (like Earth Balance)
  • 1/2 c. Light Corn Syrup
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla


Make 30 cups popped popcorn.  Mix and bring to a rolling boil the brown sugar, butter, corn syrup, and salt.  Boil gently for 5 minutes.  Stir occasionally.  Remove from heat.  Add baking soda and vanilla.  Mix well.  Pour over popped corn and blend thoroughly.  Bake 1 hour at 200° stirring every 15 minutes.  Store in airtight containers.

Summery Purple Peruvian Potato Salad


Summery Purple Peruvian Potato Salad


  • Purple Peruvian Potatoes (quartered)
  • Salt



  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 heaping tsps creole mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. Truvia
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic Powder
  • Dill
  • Oregano
  • Basil
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil


Boil potatoes in salted water until fork tender then drain in collander.  While potatoes are cooking whisk together all the ingredients of dressing except the olive oil.  Then slowly pour in olive oil whisking until emulsified.  Drizzle dressing over warm potatoes.  Toss together to coat.  Then serve.

7 Layer Taco Dip


7 Layer Taco Dip

When I was a kid and we were having a party, often times my mom would make what she called, Taco Pizza.  It was this 7 Layer Taco Dip.  She served it on a large round pizza pan — hence taco pizza  It was one of my favorite hors d’oeuvre.  It has all theses yummy layers that come together as a cacophony of flavor in your mouth.  I am going to a gathering tonight and this is what I am taking.


  • 1 small can of refried beans (I use vegan friendly ones)
  • 8 ounces of vegan sour cream mixed well with one packet of taco seasoning
  • 1 large tomato chopped and drained (I place the chopped tomato on a paper towel to absorb all the excess water)
  • Guacamole (see my homemade recipe below)
  • 1 can of sliced olives drained ( I used a can of large olives that I had on hand and chopped them myself and drained them on a paper towel)
  • Vegan Rice Cheddar (hand shredded)
  • Pickled Sliced Jalapeños
  • Blue Corn Tortilla Chips

For the first layer, spread the refried beans in the bottom of a 9 X 13 lasagna pan.  Then, on top of the beans, spread the sour cream/taco seasoning mixture.  Next layer is the tomatoes spread out.  Then slather the homemade guacamole over the tomatoes.  Next are the sliced olives.  Then hand shred the rice cheddar over top of everything.  Then dot with the jalapeños.  Serve with Blue Corn Tortilla Chips.  This can be made up ahead of time.  It allows the flavors the opportunity to marry together.  This dip is a colorful, flavorful, and festive dish for any fiesta.  Enjoy!

My Guacamole:

Start with a ripe avocado.  (You can tell it is ripe when you can press it and it yields.  If it does not yield, it is not yet ripe.  Put it back in the windowsill to continue ripening.  If you shake it and hear the pit rolling it is REALLY ripe.  Eat immediately ;o))  Cut around avocado until you have cut it in half.  Take blade of knife and hit against the pit until it is wedged in the pit.  Spin pit and it will pop out.  Hold 1/2 of avocado in hand and make slices one way and then slices the other.  Turn peel inside out and slice under avocado to pop out diced pieces.  Mash avocado.  Roll a lemon or lime.  Cut lemon or lime in half.  Squeeze juice on tope of smashed avocado, taking care to not get any seeds.  Like I said, I don’t measure, but the other ingredients include:  fresh cilantro, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, and a scoop of your favorite salsa. Mix altogether. Serve with blue corn tortilla chips (or your favorite tortilla chips). So yummy!