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VeganMoFo: Birthdays

From Sweet Avenue Bakeshop in Rutherford, NJ

Birthday Cake

August means a lot of birthday parties and celebrations in my family. The last week of August brings 3 family members birthdays! Its hectic but fun and we get to enjoy lots of cake and good food! The cake above was from Sweet Avenue Bakeshop in Rutherford, NJ for a surprise birthday party for me thrown by my family. I had absolutely no idea it was happening. It was a true surprise and I still don’t know how it happened without me knowing. I tend to know everything that is going on or will at least pick up some hints. 1 month later and I still find myself thinking “How?”. 

I can't wait to dig into @sotastyvegan 's BLT Kale Salad plus some of the other treats I bought from her stand at the Farmers Market in Montclair today.

BLT Kale Salad

I like to celebrate my birthday with food. In honesty I like to celebrate just general life with food but on birthday’s I’ll go the extra mile like heading up to the new Tuesday Farmers Market in Montclair, NJ where I visit Sally Owen’s SO Tasty Vegan stand where she sells some of the most delicious food including the BLT Kale Salad above. I savored every bite because I didn’t want it to ever end. 

B-Day Dinner: Chickpea and Cauliflower Tacos w. Cilantro Lime Crema. #vegan

Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpea Tacos

Since my birthday fell on a Tuesday the only option for dinner were Tacos! This is one of those rare times where I actually made something I’ve pinned on Pinterest.  This was the second time I’ve made this recipe by Two Peas and Their Pod. Its a recipe that made me angry that I didn’t come up with it myself! It is so easy to make. The first time I made it for friends of ours and they loved it so much they ended up making it for themselves a few time after. I like serving these with a side of sauteed kale. Some people like to add to the kale to the tacos. 


VeganMoFo: Rigatoni Vodka {Recipe}

Rigatoni Vodka www. #vegan

Rigatoni Vodka

Pre-Vegan, my favorite meal was Rigatoni Vodka. Whenever we went to an Italian restaurant this is what I always ordered. I would try to order something different but I just couldn’t because I loved it so much. Rich and creamy with a bit of kick from the red pepper flakes and vodka. Its the perfect comfort food and I’ve missed eating it oh so much. 

I’ve made it myself a few times and it’s always been just ok. The creaminess was never up to the creamy standards I was used to in this dish. While making a cashew cheese, at home, the other day I added too much water and made this beautiful cream and I instantly thought of using it in a pasta recipe. Rigatoni Vodka was the first dish I though of. Vodka isn’t an ingredient I usually keep on hand but luckily it’s something my parents do and I was able to borrow/steal some from their freezer downstairs!

This recipe was a big hit with my family. My daughter came into the kitchen and said how amazing it smelled. I was surprised she actually tried it and was so happy that she actually liked it. My son wouldn’t try it but I mixed a bit into his pasta anyway and put a few dabs of vegan butter on his to trick him. He ate it all up! 

Rigatoni Vodka
A rich and creamy tomato sauce that takes me back to my pre-vegan days ordering take out from the Italian place in my neighborhood. This recipe makes a large amount of pasta. 1 1/2 pounds! We are big on leftovers in our house for work and or school lunches.
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  1. 1 1/2 pounds of Rigitoni Pasta, cooked according to box directions
  2. 1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
  3. 1 medium onion, small diced
  4. 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  5. 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (use more for more spice!)
  6. 1 28oz unsalted crushed tomatoes
  7. 1/4 - 1/3 cup vodka
  8. 1 cup cashews (see notes)
  9. 1 cup water
  10. 1/3 cups basil, thinly sliced
  11. salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat oil in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add onions and saute for 3 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and saute for 5-7 more minutes or until onions are translucent.
  4. Carefully pour in the can of crushed plum tomatoes and vodka and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes or more.
  5. In a high speed blender, blend the cashews and water into a cream.
  6. Pour into the tomato sauce, adding the sliced basil and season with salt and pepper.
  7. Cook for 5 minutes.
  8. Mixed into cooked rigatoni and serve immediately.
  1. The amounts given for the cashew cream makes a lot. It creates a very thick, rich and creamy sauce. Feel free to use 1/2 a cup of cashews and 1/2 a cup of water for the cream for a slightly less rich and creamy sauce. It will still be delicious while saving on fat and calories!
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VeganMoFo: Puff Pastry Pockets


Puff Pastry Pockets

I don’t want to call these Hot Pockets. Puff Pastry Pockets seems more appropriate. There is a brand of store bought puff pastry that is accidentally vegan. Good for you? All healthy ingredients? No, but once in awhile isn’t going to hurt you. Dinner needs to be fun sometimes and this a fun meal.

Lentil Chili with Garlicky Greens Puff Pastry Pocket

Whenever we have a leftover stew or chili I like to use them as a filling for these pockets. The last batch I made with a Lentil Chili that my Maa made for a surprise birthday party for me. I sauteed some spinach with a lot of garlic to add a green element to the pocket. 

I spoon some filling onto half of the puff pastry and then fold over the other half and press down on all four sides with a fork to seal the filling inside. Then it’s baked according to package directions. 

Mixed Salad

This particular meal was served with a salad, for even more greens and some roasted potatoes. 

I really want to fill these pockets with a mixed vegetable and bean curry next time. I’m also working on a Broccoli and Cashew Cheese version as well since that was my favorite Hot Pocket growing up!


Sloppy Lentil Joe’s {Recipe}

Sloppy Lentil Joe's recipe

(Sneaky) Sloppy Lentil Joe’s 

I was feeling sneaky the other day. I know there are foods that I like to eat that my husband will turn his nose up at just by the name. Sloppy Joe’s are one of them. I really wanted them though. I haven’t had them in years. I set about making them without telling my family what I was making. They were already excited because I had make homemade ciabatta rolls for dinner so why ruin that excitement?

As my husband wandered in and out of the kitchen he kept remarking how good it smelled as I lied about what I was making. I was making “lentil stew” which I guess is kinda true. Finally I had to confess about what I was making because my smile was giving me away that I was being sneaky. I didn’t confess though until after I had him try it. Thankfully he loved it!

I sliced opened our homemade rolls and piled on the Sloppy Lentil’s for my husband and I while I put a small amount on my kids rolls. If they don’t see it they will eat it and that turned out to work in a way. R liked it at first then decided she didn’t. M just thought he was eating a roll. He had no idea that the roll had lentils and some veggies hidden on it. It was a successful dinner in my eyes.

Sloppy Lentil Joe’s 

serves 6-8
(depending on how you fill the sandwiches)

1 pound cooked lentils

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 medium sized onion, small diced
1 red bell pepper, small diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons chili powder
1  16oz can of tomato sauce
1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
2 tablespoons molasses
1 teaspoon agave
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large 12 inch saute pan over medium-high heat. Saute the onions and red bell pepper for 5 minutes before adding the garlic and cooking until the onions and peppers are soft. 10-15 minutes total.

Add the chili powder and saute 1 minute.

Stir in the lentils, tomato sauce, whole grain mustard, molasses, agave and apple cider vinegar and cook for 10-15 minutes so all of the flavors can combine.

Season with salt and pepper and serve on toasted ciabatta rolls!

I made some roasted potatoes and a nice side salad to go along with this recipe.

Strawberry Chocolate Chip Muffins (recipe)

Strawberry Chocolate Chip Muffins

Strawberry Chocolate Chip Muffins

Since my bread baking success the other day and the fact that I now have a normal size oven I’ve been on a baking kick. You have no idea how happy my proper oven makes me. I had to buy all new baking sheet trays when we moved into this house because my regulation size ones just wouldn’t fit. It was ridiculous.

I am also tired of wasting food. At least if fruits and vegetables go bad I can compost them but still I want to use what I buy. I bought a large container of organic strawberries for my daughters school lunches and they just weren’t going as quickly as they usually do. I figured baking them into muffins was a good way to use them up and what pairs best with strawberries? Chocolate! We always have bags of chocolate chips on hand. They are a favorite after the kids are in bed treat for my husband and I while we watch House of Cards on Netflix!

recipe Strawberry Chocolate Chip Muffins

I quickly wrote up some ideas on flour/baking powder measurements for the new recipe and went to work on it with the “help” of my children. :)


Strawberry-Chocolate Chip Muffins

Just like with the bread baking the other week I will admit that my kids and I sat on the floor in front of the oven watching the muffins bake.

I ended up thrilled with how this recipe came out. It was perfect. They had a great texture and the perfect ratio of berry to chocolate. The top’s of the muffins browned nicely and most importantly, for me, the muffin liners peeled nicely without leaving chunks of muffin attached to them. I hate when that happens. What also surprised me was the sweetness of them from the sugar and strawberries. They were sweeter then I usually like, without being too sweet, but I loved that they were and wouldn’t change the amount of sugar in them at all. Even my husband, who isn’t into sweets, really liked them.

Strawberry-Choc Chip Muffin recipe

I can’t wait to make these again. I have some blackberries in the fridge that are starting to go so I might be making another muffin recipe later today!

Let me know if you make this recipe and your thoughts on it!

Strawberry Chocolate Chip Muffins
Yields 12
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  1. 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
  2. ¾ cup sugar
  3. 2 teaspoons baking powder
  4. 1 teaspoon salt
  5. ⅓ cup coconut oil, melted
  6. 1 very ripe banana
  7. ⅔ cup room temperature* almond milk, unsweetened
  8. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  9. 1 cup sliced strawberries
  10. ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with muffin liners.
  3. In a medium size bowl whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl mash the banana with a fork or potato masher, add the melted coconut oil, almond milk, and vanilla extract. Whisk to combine.
  5. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients mixing with a rubber spatula. Once combined add the strawberries and chocolate chips and fold into the muffin mixture.
  6. Divide the mixture evenly into the 12 cup muffin tin. They will fill the tin more then 3/4 of the way up.
  7. Bake for 20-23 minutes or until the tops of the muffins are starting to lightly brown.
  1. *if the almond milk is too cold it could make the melted coconut oil congeal which would not be good!
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