Tuesday, February 23, 2010

bump in the road...

Okay so I think I have officially hit a rough patch...it's not always easy being vegetarian/vegan when the rest of your family isn't. I think my oldest daughter and husband are going through meat withdrawal. I had to break down and buy pork chops to prepare for dinner for them because I was starting to feel so bad. It got me to thinking just how much we associate care and love of our families with the food we prepare them. As a wife and mother I feel guilty not feeding them the foods they are used to eating...like I am not taking care of them. Yet, eating whole grains and vegetables is really taking care of them better. We are Italian and comfort & love is associated with meatballs and sausage. I have been trying various meat-subsitute products made out of soy and veggies and haven't really been that impressed yet. Going to keep trying. In the meantime, any recipes or product suggestions would be great!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day Linzer Cookies

Happy Valentine's Day! My mission was to make a really yummy Valentine's Day treat that was totally vegan. But, most cookie recipes that I have made in the past have lots of butter, butter, butter! That's what makes it so good, right? Well, this recipe proves that vegans can enjoy a delicious cookie, too. These cookies are really beautiful and the flavor of the dough is very unique. It's the combination of the almonds, cinnamon and lemon zest. Make them for someone you love this Valentine's Day. Mission accomplished.

1 cup of unblanched almonds
1 cup (2 sticks) of Earth Balance Buttery Sticks
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup soy yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
the zest of one lemon
1/4 teaspoon table salt
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
Jam for spreading the sandwiches with (I used strawberry but traditionally raspberry or black currant preserves are used)
To make the cookie dough
1. In a large bowl or stand mixer, cream the earth balance and the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the soy yogurt and beat until smooth. Stir in the vanilla and lemon zest.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the ground almonds, flour, baking powder and cinnamon. With the mixer on low add the dry mixture in to the earth balance and sugar mixture a little at a time. Beat only until just combined - do not overbeat or you will get cardboard cookies. Dough will be a little crumbly.
3. With your hands shape the dough into two discs and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
To bake the cookies
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Roll out dough on lightly floured surface and cut out an even number of tops and bottoms. You will need a large heart shape cookie cutter and a small heart cookie cutter to make the cut-out.
3. Bake cookies for 8 minutes, until the edges are slightly golden. Allow the cookies to cool on wire racks.
To assemble the cookies
1. Sift a layer of confectioner’s sugar on to the cookie tops (the ones with the cutout).
2. Spread the cookie bottoms with a thin layer of jam.
3. Place the top cookie on the bottom cookie. 
Makes about 15 sandwich cookies.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Meat Free Mondays

It's now a website and a movement. Check it out!


Tell me what you think of the website!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Vegetable Bolognese with Mezzi Rigatoni

Out of all my experimental vegetarian and vegan cooking attempts so far...this is my absolute FAVORITE recipe. It is sooo good! I seriously think that everyone will love this recipe. I have to give credit where credit is due - the recipe is by Giada De Laurentiis of the Food Network. I adapted it slightly to fit my taste and the ingredients I had on hand the day I made it.

It is elegant, hearty and it has great complexity of flavor, I think due to the mascarpone cheese and the red wine. Try it for a dinner party, a weeknight meal, or make it for your special someone this Valentine's Day. Even kids will love it and never know how many vegetables they are eating with each bite...but you will and it will make you very happy!


1  onion, peeled and chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1/4  cup olive oil
2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
8 ounces baby portobello mushrooms, diced very small
1 1/2 cups of organic vegetable stock (store-bought)
2 T. tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup of mascarpone cheese (1/2 of an 8 oz. container)
1 pound mezzi rigatoni (Barilla brand is what I use)
1/4 locatelli/romano cheese

Place the onion, bell pepper, and garlic in a food processor. Pulse the vegetables until finely chopped but still slightly chunky (smaller than a dice). Place the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped vegetables, thyme, oregano, salt and pepper. Cook until tender, about 6-8 minutes. (You want softening NOT browning) Add the mushrooms and tomato paste, continue cooking, stirring to dissolve the tomato paste until the mushrooms are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the vegetable stock and the red wine. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and let the mixture simmer until the liquid is reduced by about half, about 10 minutes. Add the mascarpone cheese and stir just until the cheese is incorporated - it pretty much melts into the sauce. 

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add a few tablespoons worth of salt then add the pasta and cook until al dente (tender but still firm to the bite), stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Scoop out about 1/2 cup of the cooking water from the pasta, then drain the pasta. Add the pasta to the vegetable mixture. Add some of the reserved pasta cooking liquid to the sauce, if necessary to moisten the sauce and to make sure all pasta is coated. Toss and garnish with the locatelli cheese and serve. 

Prep time: 20 min. Cook time: 25 min. Serves: 6 

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Michael Pollan and Alicia Silverstone on Oprah today!

So, today on Oprah, she is talking with Michael Pollan and Alicia Silverstone.

Michael Pollan is an award-winning journalist and considered a world-renowned food expert. He has authored 5 books and his book The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals was used as a reference for the movie, Food, Inc. He was also interviewed throughout the film.

Alicia Silverstone recently wrote a vegan cookbook that I really love called The Kind Diet. It should be a really interesting show. Check it out! www.oprah.com.

The links to Food, Inc and Alicia's cookbook are on my blog if you are interested.

My favorite quote from Michael Pollan: "Imagine your great-grandmother...would she recognize this as food?" "If the answer is no, maybe you don't want to eat it."

My favorite idea of Michael Pollan:   Meatless Monday's

Eat your veggies,


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sofia's Almost Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies


2 1/4 cups of flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 sticks of Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks (room temperature)
3/4 cup of granulated sugar
3/4 cup of packed light brown sugar
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 organic eggs (room temperature)
1 12 oz. bag of vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips

PREHEAT oven to 375 F

Cream the 2 sticks of Earth Balance with the sugars in a stand mixer or with a hand-held mixer. Beat until light and fluffy. On low speed, add in one egg at a time. Once both eggs are added, add in the vanilla. Once blended, turn off mixer. In separate bowl, sift together the remainder of the dry ingredients.  Turn mixer back on low, and slowly add in the flour mixture, beat until just combined. Hand mix in the bag of vegan chips.

On a parchment lined cookie sheet, drop heaping tablespoons of dough. Bake for 9-11 minutes until lightly golden brown. Cool on wire racks. Makes about 26 large cookies. SO GOOD!

My Very First Post

Hi everyone! So, a few weeks ago, I decided to become a vegetarian easing into a vegan lifestyle. It has been something I have read about and looked into for years now. I had been slowly cutting back on beef and pork in my diet for the last year. There have been a series of events over this past year that have made eating animal products less and less appealing for me. The final straw was viewing the movie Food, Inc. in December. Wow.  I was blown away. Their catch line is "you will never look at dinner the same way" and I totally get why they say that because it is so true. I attached a link to their website and I encourage you to check it out on your own. It is very informative.

So, I am taking the plunge and I thought it would be fun to blog about it and share my thoughts, research and recipe tragedies and triumphs with all of you. I am really excited about this life-changing decision.

So, the only animal products that I will be using in my recipes will be organic eggs and organic dairy. By definition of a vegetarian that technically makes me a lacto-ovo-vegetarian. However, I am trying to limit eggs and dairy in my diet so many of my recipes will be vegan. I will also share about different interesting products that I find and like to cook with. I love to cook and am excited to experiment with new recipes and ingredients and adapt some of my old recipes too.

So, whether you are an omnivore, a vegetarian or a vegan or somewhere in-between I think you will enjoy the recipes, thoughts and facts that I share. I encourage all you omnivores out there to try these recipes out and consider eliminating meat and dairy from your diet one or a few days a week - its good for your health, good for the planet and good for all the chickens, pigs and cows everywhere!