Tag Archives: easy vegan food

Guest Blogger: Fried Dandelions – Hot Tamales

1 Oct

Happy Vegan MoFo! Hope your second day is just as exciting as the first. Please welcome back Sarah De la Cruz, author of Fried Dandelions with another amazing recipe – Hot Tamales. You can read Sarah’s previous post recipe – Spiced Chocolate Pudding here and follow her on her blog and comment on her Facebook page. Please welcome back Sarah!

These tamales will be a hit at your next dinner party…or family dinner!

I’ve always thought that tamales were very time consuming and I’ve been intimidated by them. I used to tutor at risk kids at my church and one of the moms sold her own homemade tamales to us. They were amazing! But she would show us blisters she got from mixing the dough, and tell stories of how long she spent in the kitchen. Maybe she was just telling us this to keep her business booming and scare us from trying it ourselves? Because if I had known how easy it was to put these together I would have done so a long time ago!

Now, easy and quick are two different things. These are not fast. But they are simple, and there is a lot of hands off time. They are great to make once you are home for the afternoon. One way I saved time is by mixing my “filling” right into the dough. This is a technique I saw this summer at my local farmers’ market. Rather than a traditional filling surrounded by corn masa, the filling is mixed right in. It saves time, and you don’t have to worry about filling oozing out of the sides.

Not sure of how I would like these, I didn’t invest in any new equipment. I just rigged a roasting rack on top of a large sautee pan that is oven proof. When it came time to steam, I covered well with foil. Ideally you will have a rectangular roasting pan with rack to fit, but if you don’t, don’t worry about it. This worked just fine, and I’m debating about whether or not I need to bother with something fancy for next time!

I topped these with some quick homemade salsa. Your favorite salsa will be great, but its so easy to make a fresh one at home, so give it a try if you have a few extra minutes (and I really mean a few!). The best part…tamales freeze well…you could make a huge batch and freeze half for a cold, rainy day when you don’t have the time or energy to cook! Hope you enjoy these as much as we did!

Hot Tamales

by Sarah De la Cruz

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Serves: 6-8, makes 20 tamales


  • 2 c black beans
  • 1 c corn (fresh or frozen)
  • ½ c bell pepper (I used orange for color and variety!)
  • ½ c green onions
  • ¼ c packed cilantro

Tamale Dough:

  • 4 cups masa ?(I used Bob’s Red Mill which avoids GMO corn)
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 1 cup coconut oil, melted
  • juice of 3 limes + water to equal 3 c (my limes yielded ¾ c juice + 2 ¼ c water)
  • dried corn husks
Preheat over to 400.

Soak 20 corn husks (plus a few extra in case of rips) in a large bowl of water for 10 minutes. Drain and quickly rinse. Set aside.

Mix all filling ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.

a rainbow of colors means a rainbow of vitamins!

Mix masa, baking powder, salt and cumin in large bowl.

Masa Harina is different than cornmeal, so make sure you get the right one. I got mine at Whole Foods. They also have this at regular grocery stores and Latin markets.

Gently warm coconut oil in microwave until it is melted (don’t heat for too long though, you just want it to be melted). Pour coconut oil over masa mixture and stir well. Once well combined, add water and lime juice mixture. It will seem like there is no way that the masa mixture can absorb all of the water, but it will surprise you! Once combined, add all of the filling and stir again until well combined.

Make sure it is well mixed…every bite will be full of flavor!

Set up an assembly line now. You want to have your corn husks, your masa mixture, a work surface, and a rack to steam on. Carefully unfold one corn husk (they will be more pliable once soaked, but still fragile). It will be sort of triangular in shape. I started with the point towards me. I scooped 1/3 c masa mixture and placed it in the center of my husk, and shaped it slightly with my hands to form more of a rectangular log. Then fold up the bottom, take one side and pull it over the top, then take the other side and pull it over to overlap. Place seam side down on your rack. Done! How easy was that? You could tie them with a strip of leftover husk but I didn’t have any trouble with mine staying together. They do look pretty with the tie though. You can tie in the middle, or if your husk isn’t long enough, tie at the open top. Now, repeat 19 more times!

not too tricky!

I had to steam mine in two batches because I couldn’t fit them all on my rack. I did end up stacking a couple at the end to prevent a third steaming and it seemed fine. I wouldn’t stack all 20 in at once unless you had a really big roasting rack, but you can be the judge of how it fits!

on my makeshift rack

Cover tightly with foil to trap steam in.

Tamale space craft ready for take off

Place in oven for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and place on cooling rack without opening the foil. Let them continue cooking in the residual steam for 15-20 more minutes. Carefully remove foil, watching out for steam. You can plate these wrapped in the husks, or remove the husks. Once open, smother with salsa and devour!

they look like little presents just waiting to be unwrapped

unwrapped and ready to enjoy

Guest Blogger: Quantum Vegan – Tofu Kale Spanakopita

9 Jul

Sam, author of Quantum Vegan has shared a lovely recipe with VBU! – Tofu Kale Spanakopita. Sam went vegan three years ago after several years of “flexitarianism” and a year of vegetarianism. She continues to move toward a more whole-food, plant-based approach in her eating and likes to blog about her adventures trying recipes from her favorite vegan cookbooks. Check out Sam’s Twitter, Facebook and of course blog. Please welcome Sam!

‘Tis the season for fresh greens, so I’ve been buying a lot of kale at the farmer’s market. When I can’t get to the farmer’s market, I check the co-op. (I’ve bought kale at the grocery store in the past when I’m dying to have it, but I’m seriously spoiled by the farm-fresh variety…) Recently this yielded a beautiful bunch of NY-grown organic kale–on sale! Score!

Having kale around all the time means finding something to do with it. I love it in salad, as salad and on sandwiches, of course, but there are so many other great ways to prepare it. This time, I went with something that struck me as particularly unique: tofu kale spanakopita from Vegan Planet.

Before deciding to make this, I’d never had spanakopita before. I’d heard of it and seen it on menus, but hadn’t actually tried it. I keep coming across dishes like this in my cookbook collection. It seems kind of strange to me that there were all these different foods just waiting to be experimented with, but I didn’t actually start doing any experimenting until I went vegan. I find it drives home the point of how narrow my focus was before I transitioned to eating more plant-based foods.

spanakopita closeup

From my searches around the Internet, it sounds like traditional spanakopita is made with feta cheese and spinach and is often served as a side dish rather than the main course. (Feel free to enlighten me if I’m wrong!) In the Vegan Planet version, Robin Robertson uses firm tofu and kale to mimic the effect. The kale gets cooked with garlic and onion, then tossed in the food processor with the tofu and some seasonings to make it taste more “cheese-like.” Then comes the fun part: getting to play with phyllo dough!

spanakopita in the pan

I bought some phyllo dough back around Christmas to make a veggie strudel, and the rest of it has been sitting in the freezer ever since. Part of what turns me off to using it is the necessity of brushing every layer with some form of butter or oil to make it crisp and flaky. That alone is enough to relegate it to the category of “special treat.” It’s also very fiddly to work with, making
it a bit too time-consuming for regular use. But when there is time, it can be a lot of fun.

Since I was only making two servings of the spanakopita, I used four sheets of phyllo in a loaf pan rather than ten sheets in a square baking dish for the full recipe. I wound up using about a tablespoon of oil for the whole brushing process, which I was okay with, plus I didn’t use any in the preparation of the filling. Low-oil cooking has been working out well for me, and I’ve found that I enjoy food more when it doesn’t look, feel or taste greasy.

spanakopita served with salad

Since I was serving the spanakopita as a main course, I hunted around Google for what would make a good side dish. The consensus seemed to be a Greek-style salad, I’m assuming because the original version of spanakopita is so heavy on oily ingredients. I loved the idea, so I went with customized side salads using some Olivia’s Organics spinach/arugula mix, chopped tomatoes and orange peppers. My salad got some cucumbers as well, and Mom’s got kalamata olives. A little drizzle of balsamic vinegar made them the perfect accompaniment.

My searching also turned up the idea of tziaki sauce, yet another thing I’d seen in cookbooks but never made. The Best Veggie Burgers on the Planet has a recipe for it, which I wound up taking inspiration from but not actually following. I can’t say if the result resembled actual tziaki, but it tasted pretty darn good on the spanakopita, so I’d call it a success! The spanakopita itself was flaky with a soft, warm center and an entertaining green color from the kale. I think the filling would taste equally good in a potpie crust or a different kind of savory pastry dough…maybe even as a crepe filling!

I might be getting a little carried away.

Guest Blogger: Keepin’ It Kind – Spring Onion & Celery Soup

5 Jun
Please welcome our newest blogger, Kristy, author of Keepin’ It Kind. She is a year old vegan with a lengthy vegetarian history behind her. Here she is in her own words, “My name is Kristy, and I am the author of Keepin’ It kind, a blog I do with my husband, Chris, who does the majority of the photography (sometimes I get a hold of the camera!).  I am a former personal trainer, turned world-traveler, turned fromagier, turned production assistant and blogger.  After being vegetarian for at least 8 years, Chris and I became vegan almost a year ago and I have never been happier in my life.  Aside from marrying my husband, it was the greatest decision I’ve ever made!” Please visit Kristy on her Facebook page and bookmark/follow her blog. Please welcome Kristy!

Because we live on the coast, it is always quite a bit cooler here than in the rest of LA. While the rest of LA is welcoming warm early summer nights, we are still throwing our sweatshirts on in the evening. I don’t miss it at all (I lived in West Hollywood for a while and I had more than my share of hot, balmy nights) and it also means that it’s still soup-for-dinner weather.

My most recent soup creation was inspired by some gorgeous spring onions our CSA sent us. Adorable, curvacious white bulbs at the base of lovely kelly green stalks- absolutely stunning! While I used a couple here and there in other recipes, this one really showed off their fresh, sweetly bitter (I know- it sounds like an oxy moron, but it’s the only way I can describe them) taste. Paired with the crispness of the celery, you have yourself a light refreshing spring soup, perfect for those nights that are still cool enough to heat up the kitchen.



  • 2 T olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 1 large head of celery, or 2 small heads, chopped (should fill about 5 cups)
  • ½ a head of cauliflower, chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 2-3 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 2 ½ tsp thyme
  • 2 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp liquid smoke (optional)
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 T nutritional yeast (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat for 30 seconds. Add garlic and sauté until “golden.” Add the celery, cauliflower, spring onions, spices, and liquid smoke (if using). Mix to combine. Saute for about 5 minutes.
  • Add the vegetable broth and the water, and stir to combine. Put a lid on the pot and bring to a boil. Once it is boiling, reduce to a simmer and tilt the lid on the pot so that there is a little crack for steam to get out. Let it simmer for about 15-20 minutes, then remove from heat.
  • If you have an immersion blender, use it to pureé the soup to your desired consistency. If you only have a standing blender, add the soup to the blender in batches and blend until all of the soup is pureéd. At this point, you can add in the Nutritional Yeast, which will give it a thicker, slightly cheesy taste. You can also add salt and pepper to taste. Pour into bowls, serve with some crusty bread and enjoy!

Is it still cool at night where you live?

All Photos taken by Chris Miller

© Kristy Turner and Keepin’ It Kind, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material (content and images) without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kristy Turner and Keepin’ It Kind with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Guest Blogger: The Vegan Kat – Ginger Sesame Stir Fry with Seitan

24 May

Please welcome Kat, she is the author of The Vegan Kat.  She has been a vegan for nearly 4 years, and was vegetarian for about 6 years before going vegan. Her blog, The Vegan Kat, is her way of sharing recipes and showing that it’s not so hard to be vegan. Kat: “I’ve always enjoyed cooking and baking, so it’s good inspiration to continue trying new recipes and new foods.” Visit The Vegan Kat’s Facebook page here. Please welcome Kat!

I was in the mood for ginger and a healthy dose of veggies and this is the dish that resulted. It turned out really well especially for being a bit improvisational. Sometimes that’s the best way to cook! I make stir fries pretty often, but it was good to change things up and throw in some new flavors and veggies. It’s quite a colorful dish too. This is a quick and easy recipe that you can make on a weeknight, and the leftovers are perfect for lunch the next day!


1 yellow squash
About 1 cup of French beans (or green beans)
1 red pepper
1 leek
1 yellow onion
1 or 2 shallots
5 cloves of garlic
1 heaping Tbsp of fresh grated ginger
sesame oil
1 package of seitan
1/4 – 1/2 cup of soy sauce
1/4 – 1/2 cup of rice vinegar
garlic powder
ground black pepper
sticky rice or noodles
sesame seeds


  • Prepare your rice or noodles according to the package directions. I used sticky rice for this dish which worked out well. While the rice or noodles are cooking, prepare the rest of the dish.
  • Chop the yellow squash, french beans, red pepper, leek, yellow onion, and shallots. Press or mince the garlic and grate the ginger. Saute these ingredients in a large pan with some sesame oil.
  • In a separate pan saute the seitan in sesame oil so the edges get crispy.
  • Add about 1/4 of soy sauce and a 1/4 cup of rice vinegar to the veggies and let them simmer for a little bit to soak up the liquid.
  • Once the seitan is crispy, add about an 1/8-1/4 cup of soy and 1/8 to a 1/4 cup of rice vinegar. Start with less and add more to taste. Continue to saute so the seitan soaks up the flavor.
  • Combine the seitan with the veggies. Season with some garlic powder and ground black pepper to taste.
  • In a small pan, toast some sesame seeds over medium-low heat. It doesn’t take long for them to toast so keep an eye on them.
  • Once your rice or noodles are finished, spoon some into a bowl. Top with the veggies and seitan. Sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds on top.

Guest Blogger: The Vegan Version

29 Nov

Lee is the author of the blog The Vegan Version, she is an amazing person on top of being a busy mom and avid blogger. Welcome back Lee!

I was recently given sweet potatoes that were grown by a friend in his garden. To the best of my knowledge I have never had a freshly picked sweet potato. Even though my Father had a huge garden and sometimes grew potatoes I don’t think he ever grew sweet potatoes.










I am heading to my Moms for Thanksgiving dinner today and bringing my potato stuffed lentil loaf, green bean casserole and these sweet potato turnovers. I am so blessed to have so much to be thankful for- a supportive family, a terrific husband, two beautiful kids, sweet bulldog, a loving circle of friends, a great home and, a fulfilling career.

And of course I cannot forget all of you that read this blog. I have met so many great people on this vegan journey and it brings me much happiness to share compassionate recipes with you.

Of course, lets not forget Steve who grew and gave me these sweet potatoes- the best I have ever eaten!

The recipe makes a ton. You could easily cut it by 2/3rd to create a single tray of turnovers.

Sweet Potato Turnovers

3 packages frozen puff pastry, thawed according to package directions (I used Pepperidge Farm)
5 or 6 small/medium sweet potatoes, cubed and boiled until fork tender
1 head roasted garlic
1/2 cup +2 tbsp non dairy milk (I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut
1/4 cup Earth Balance Vegan Butter
3 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
1 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place the cooked sweet potatoes in a bowl and add the 1/2 cup non dairy milk and Earth Balance Butter.  Beat with a hand mixer until smooth.  Add the roasted garlic, thyme, salt and pepper and beat to incorporate.

In a small bowl whisk together the other 2 tbsp of non dairy milk and the olive oil.  Place one sheet of puff pastry on a cutting board and cut into 9 equal size squares.  Add about a teaspoon of the potato mixture in the center of each square. Brush the perimeter of each square with the non dairy milk and olive oil mixture.   Fold the puff pastry over the mixture forming a triangle shape.  With a fork crimp the edges in order to ensure no filling escapes during baking.

Brush the tops of each of the turnovers with some more non dairy milk and olive oil mixture. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes at 400 or until golden brown.