The Great CriFSMas Food Roundup, 2012 edition!

Sunday, December 30th, 2012

2012-12-22 - Gift Cookies - 0003

A basket of chai cookies, oatmeal cream pies, and eggnog cookies for our neighbors.

You guys, I did so much baking this holiday season! Instead of buying my family the customary vegan treats from etsy, I had the bright idea to make everything my own bad self. (“Make everyone’s presents by hand, she said. It’ll be fun, she said.” reads a mid-December entry in my journal.) Several weeks and a dozen or so batches of cookies later, and I am wiped out. Good thing I have extra cookies to keep me going, eh?

Many of the recipes are from Kelly Peloza’s The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur, which I’m quickly growing to love. My mom gave it to me a Christmas or two ago, but given my awful track record with cookies and other baked sweets, I hadn’t gotten much use out of it. (Until now!)

Much to my surprise, everything came out wonderfully! Not a single burned cookie in the bunch. I think the secret is in the parchment paper. I’ve been resistant to using the stuff in the past, because it feels like I’m wasting paper or something. But it really works! Pro tip: as long as they haven’t picked up any cookie residue, you can reuse sheets of parchment paper several times to save money and resources. This is especially helpful if you’re baking multiple batches of cookies in a single day.

Without further ado, here’s a rundown of all the holiday goodies to pass through my kitchen (and gullet! yay the imagery!) this month. Mostly cookies, but also fancy nuts, truffles, ice cream, pizza, and pasta!


2012-12-15 - VCC Chewy Spiced Molasses - 0013

Chewy Spiced Molasses Cookies from The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur (page 228) – Mine didn’t come out quite as plump and chewy as the ones pictured in the book, but I think that’s because I made the cookies a little smaller than suggested.

Actually, that was a trend pretty much across the board – I ended up with more, slightly smaller cookies vs. fewer, larger cookies (the latter being the norm for me). It was all good though, because the smaller cookies were a better fit for the tupperware I used to pack and ship them. Score!

Chewy or not, these were still super-delish, though not nearly as nommy as some of the other cookies I tried.

(More below the fold…)

This Week in Pizza

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

First and foremost: CHEDDAR BACON CHEESEBURGER & FRIES PIZZA! This really happened, people.


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When I first came up with the idea for this bad boy, it was with the intention of making it for Thanksgiving. The holiday kind of crept up on us this year, you see, and the prospect of making a five-course meal for just Shane and I wasn’t really doing it for me. Alas, Shane – who hearts his seasonal holiday foods – nixed the idea. Instead we compromised on these epic looking Thanksgiving Burgers, and made the cheeseburger pizza over the weekend.

Gooey cheddar Daiya cheese, fried Lightlife Smart Bacon, savory Yves Smart Round, crispy crinkle cut french fries – not to mention tomatoes, onions, and mushrooms – ugh, my stomach is doing a happy dance just thinking about it. Seriously fucking amazing.


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I know that pizza isn’t exactly considered a holiday food, but you should totally take this to your next family gathering and wow the defensive omnivores with the awesomeness that is vegan junk food. “THIS! THIS IS WHAT VEGANS EAT, COUSIN GEOFFREY! Go eat a hamburger and choke on a cow’s dick!

OR! If it’s something a little more festive you desire, allow me to remind you of last year’s Vegan Thanksgiving Pizza with all the fixings!


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Just saying. Last minute meal idea. YOU’RE WELCOME!


Pizza Shells & Parmesan

Sunday, November 18th, 2012

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A while back, I won a nifty little pizza kit from Galaxy Foods. (Pro tip: enter every vegan giveaway on the internets and you’re bound to win sooner or later!) The kit came packed full of goodies: an apron, oven mitts, a pizza cutter, some free product coupons from Galaxy Foods (we got cream cheese for bagels!), pizza sauce, Galaxy brand parmesan cheese, and pizza shells from Whole Foods (the 365 brand). All vegan, of course!

We finally got around to trying the shells last week; normally I prefer making my own dough (so good! and easy!), but we were in the middle of a huge landscaping project and thus super busy and pressed for time.

On the plus side, the shells are thin and crispy, just how I like ’em (but can never seem to do on my own. Good thin crust recipe – anyone? Bueller?) They’re also quite large, about the size of the Amy’s and Tofurky frozen pizzas, possibly even a tad bigger. One pizza’s about enough for two people; easy peasy if you enjoy it with a side. (Fries, anyone?)

But the shells are also surprisingly bland and tasteless, even for a white crust. I guess you could maybe consider this a positive, since you can add all the flavor you want with toppings? idk, I think I prefer pita pizzas. Tasty and inexpensive!


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The Galaxy Foods vegan parmesan, on the other hand? EPIC WIN! I’ve never had dairy parmesan, so I can’t say with absolute certainty that it tastes like the “real” thing – but the husband swears that it does, and it has the same “dirty socks” smell of non-vegan parm, so that’s enough for me. At the rate we’re using it, we will have flown through a bottle in under two weeks. Seriously addictive.

At ~ $5.00 a bottle, though, it’s one expensive habit! Probably I’ll go revert to homemade parmesan once we finally polish off the fancy store-bought stuff. That’s okay. Still yummy!

(fwiw, the Galaxy parmesan got some pretty awful review on Vegan Essentials, but I think they’ve since changed the formula. Whatever, I like it. Send your unwanted parm to meeeeeee!)

Virtual Vegan Potluck: Something Sweet, Something Savory

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012


Welcome to the Virtual Vegan Potluck, y’all! First visit? Don’t worry, I’m a newcomer, too. Let’s hang together, okay? Strength in numbers!

I first learned of this very cool project over on the Vegan MoFo facebook page – and, not wanting the fun to end on October 31st, promptly signed up. I’m so glad I did, too, ’cause it gave me the opportunity to try two new recipes which might have otherwise been pushed to the back burner. That’s right, two! Because I love you double! Both of ’em are breads – since that’s what I chose during registration – one sweet, the other savory. Something for everyone!


Hot Cross Buns for the Virtual Vegan Potluck (0006)


First up, the sweet stuff: Hot Cross Buns, recipe via Vegan Dad. Initially I was set to make these for Vegan MoFo (paired with Ida Maria’s “I Like You So Much Better When You’re Naked”), but they got bumped in favor of Fried (and Baked!) Green Tomatoes and Paul Young at the last minute. Redemption, thy taste is sweet and sugary!

The husband was actually nice enough to make these for me, as a sort of down(re)payment on my October cooking marathon. It’s a long process, but not terribly complicated – there’s just a lot of waiting around. He mostly followed the recipe, but had to omit the currants since we couldn’t find any locally, and didn’t have the time to order them online.

On his first try, the mister was afraid that the dough didn’t rise enough, so he set it aside and made a second batch, this time with rapid rise instead of active dry yeast. Alas, both dough balls showed about the same amount of rise. Luckily, I think it was enough, because the rolls were super-tasty. Not light and fluffy, but a little on the dense side – in a good way, though. And the glaze and icing? Shut the front door!

According to the Wikipedia,

Sharing a hot cross bun with another is supposed to ensure friendship throughout the coming year, particularly if “Half for you and half for me, Between us two shall goodwill be” is said at the time. Because of the cross on the buns, some say they should be kissed before being eaten.

We replaced the cross with a “V,” so I’m not quite sure of the message my buns are sending. Perhaps you have to be a Level 5 Vegan before you can lay your lips on them? Whatever, I’ll settle for a jab at Mark Bittman. I’m not fussy.


Hot Cross Buns for the Virtual Vegan Potluck (0018)


But back to the first, “failed” batch of dough. The husband baked it as one large loaf, roughly following Vegan Dad’s instructions, and…it, too, was awesome! Reminiscent of a certain sugar loaf I love, but with sweetness throughout instead of concentrated in the center. Dazed and hungry from a nap, I didn’t think to snap a pic before I devoured half the loaf. I did get the leftovers, though!


Hot Cross Bread for the Virtual Vegan Potluck (0004)


Perfect when sliced thinly, then toasted with a bit of margarine and brown sugar. Ugh, I’m salivating at the thought of it.


Pepperoni Pizza Bread for the Virtual Vegan Potluck (0014)


And for the “savory” portion of this potluck: Pepperoni Pizza Bread! My aunt’s boyfriend always brought pizza bread to our Christmas/New Years celebrations, so I’ve come to associate it with family and friends and fun. Sneaking sips of wine and playing poker for pennies until 2AM. Stuffing your face until you’re about to pop, and then stuffing it some more. Surreptitiously changing into jammies when your jeans refuse to button. Good times.


Pepperoni Pizza Bread for the Virtual Vegan Potluck (0019)


I have to give some (read: most) of the credit to my husband for this bread as well, since he made it (albeit at my direction!). As per usual, he started with our go-to fluffy white pizza dough recipe. After the dough has risen, lay it out flat in a rectangular shape, add your toppings (pizza sauce, mozzarella Daiya, and Lightlife Pepperoni), roll into a circle-loaf-thingie, bake, and enjoy. It’s that easy!


Pepperoni Pizza Bread for the Virtual Vegan Potluck (0032)


Come to think of it, I’m gonna have to ask my mum why she never made us pizza bread. Since it was a once-a-year treat, I always assumed it was complicated and tedious and nearly impossible to make. But not so much! I mean, she was an accomplished pizzanista. What’s the deal?

Because I aim to please, there is a recipe under the jump!


Pepperoni Pizza Bread for the Virtual Vegan Potluck (0034)


(More below the fold…)

Eat to the Beat: Pizza Margherita & Ghost Mice

Friday, October 26th, 2012


The song: “Free Pizza for Life” by Ghost Mice (lyrics)

The foodstuff: Pizza Margherita from Heart Healthy Pizza

The connection: This “heart healthy pizza” might not be free, but it’s good for life!

Truth be told, I have no idea where or how a vegan might score free pizza. Befriend the owners of Peace O’ Pie? Offer up one’s dishwashing skills at Vinnie’s Pizzeria in exchange for all the odd slices you can eat? Dumpster dive at Whole Foods, hoping to find a past-date, discarded Tofurky pizza? Who knows! Not me, otherwise I’d be doing it right now instead of writing this post. Pizza is my everything.


Pizza Margherita from Heart Healthy Pizza (0025)


Instead of concentrating on the “free” portion of this song, then, let’s enjoy pizza “for life.” The very first all-vegan pizza cookbook (that I know of!), Mark Sutton’s Hearth Healthy Pizza (subtitled “Volume 1” on Amazon – could there be a second book in the works? PLEASE SAY YES!) includes more than 100 recipes for delicious, nutritious vegan pizza and related foodstuffs. We’re talking dough, cheeses, and meats. Sauces, salsa, and pestos. Tempeh anchovies, y’all! Recipes for crusts and sauces are listed in their own chapters, and then Sutton pulls it altogether by putting together a variety of pizza combinations for you: The Official Mad Cowboy. Thymely Summer Squash. St. Patty’s Pizza Pie. And on and on.

Because the recipes rely primarily upon grains, beans, nuts, vegetables, and assorted other nutritious vegan goodies, the pizza pies in this book aren’t just good – they’re also good for you. Pizza “for life,” in other words.

I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that, though I won a copy of this book months ago, this is the first recipe I’ve tried! Mostly because I’ve been busy concocting my own (much less healthy) pizza masterpieces – but also, every time I crack Heart Healthy Pizza open, I get a wee bit intimated. Baking and blending your own meats and cheeses from scratch…it’s like every recipe is a recipe within a recipe. Inception, vegan pizza styley! With so many steps, I was afraid each pizza would take most of an afternoon to make. Cue: procrastination.


Pizza Margherita from Heart Healthy Pizza (0004)


But it isn’t so! I chose the Pizza Margherita because it seemed simple enough – but even this pie required me to make all the components from scratch: Basic Pizza Dough (obvs!); Classic Tomato Sauce; Millet, Sunflower Seeds, and Oregano Sauce (hold the oregano!); and Parmiso. Though I cheated on the tomato sauce (hey, I had a jar of Newman’s Own Marinara Sauce already opened!), I made everything else and guess what? It wasn’t all that hard! Between the dough and the cheeses, the whole affair took less than 45 minutes. Plus, the Millet Sauce and Parmiso keep well in the fridge, so you can make them ahead of time!

The Pizza Margherita is like a traditional Old World pie, but vegan – with the Millet, Sunflower Seeds, and Oregano Sauce subbing in for raw slices of mozzarella. It’s a thick sauce, similar in consistency to pancake batter, which you “blob” onto the pizza. I wasn’t sure how much it would spread out during cooking – if at all – so I went a little easy on it. (The leftovers? Makes a delicious spread for sammies!) Turns out that it pretty much stays put, so don’t be afraid to cover your ‘za with blobs. Cheesy!


Parmiso from Heart Healthy Pizza (0002)


The Parmiso Sutton describes as a “combination of plant-based grated Parmesan Cheese and Gomiso. Gomiso is a ground roasted sesame seed and salt mixture, very popular in macrobiotic cooking as well as in Asia (particularly, Korea). Though I was tempted to use my own favorite vegan parm, I decided to give Sutton’s Parmiso a try – and I’m glad I did! Super-tasty, though I think it goes better on pizza than pasta. For that, I prefer my almond and nooch mix.

As for the dough, the mister (who’s forever on dough duty in our house) reports that it’s denser than he’s used to – which is a good thing, since it makes the dough easier to work with. It bakes into a nice, crispy, stable crust – especially perfect for heavy toppings.

Put it all together, and I quite enjoyed the Pizza Margherita! Nutritious, easy to make, yummy – and possibly even less expensive than vegan pies topped with pricey commercial meats and cheeses, to boot. (My usual MO.) I look forward to trying some of the other recipes in Heart Healthy Pizza. (Tofu Feta, I’m looking at you!)

Pro tip: since there aren’t many toppings protecting the sauce, the Pizza Margherita comes out a little dry when you reheat the leftovers. Go heavy on the sauce or go home! Or if you’re already there, come on over to my place and make me a pizza. I’m hungry again, yo!


Pizza Margherita from Heart Healthy Pizza (0038)



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Eat to the Beat

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Iron Chef/Eat to the Beat: Rosemary Potato Pizza with Garlic Sesame Sauce & Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen

Saturday, October 20th, 2012


The song: “Gimme Pizza” (Slow Jam) by Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen (original)

The foodstuff: Potato Pizza with Garlic Sesame Sauce (recipe below)

The connection: P.I.Z.Z.A.


Y’all, I’ve been wanting to incorporate pizza (my favorite!) into these Iron Chef challenges for some time now – but tragically, none of the ingredients have really screamed “pizza.” (Which is weird because pizza, much like ice cream, never fails to make me scream. And cry and moan and a few other things that are too obscene to mention here.) Until this weekend, that is!

Two words: potatoes and sesame.


Rosemary Potato Pizza with Garlic Sesame Sauce for Iron Chef (0021)


Two more words: potato pizza!

To start, I made a basic white pizza dough (my go-to recipe!), with a little garlic powder mixed in. The crust is dusted with a bit of rosemary-infused olive oil, then stacked high with several layers of paper-thin, salty Yokon Gold (or, in my case, red skin) potatoes, also seasoned with a bit of olive oil. Sprinkle some sesame seeds on top and, voilà, an Iron Chef inspired pizza for four!

Since this is all so basic it feels rather like cheating, I also made a Garlic Sesame Sauce: silken tofu, blended and dressed up with sesame seed oil, tahini, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, and a few other things. I used the Sour Cream recipe found in Lane Gold’s Vegan Junk Food as a jumping-off point, testing and adding ingredients until I had something that was a little bit sesame, a little but garlicky. Not half bad, if I do say so myself!

It’s meant to be drizzled (or plopped, as the case may be) on the pizza post-baking


Rosemary Potato Pizza with Garlic Sesame Sauce for Iron Chef (0041)


or served on the side as a dipping sauce,


Rosemary Potato Pizza with Garlic Sesame Sauce for Iron Chef (0063)


but you could easily use it like a more traditional pizza sauce. Cut the olive oil in half and add the sauce first, followed by the potatoes, olive oil, and optional sesame seeds. Easy as pie! (Because it is a pie!)

The pizza’s pretty great on its own, but I like the sauce because it helps to add a little moisture to what can sometimes be a dry pie. (Mashed potatoes work wonders too!) Got leftovers? Don’t fret! The sauce also makes for a tasty dressing, dip, or sandwich spread.

We also made a pretty epic Bruschetta Pizza, a slice of which you see on my plate. (When we make pizza, we ALWAYS make two. One for everyone!) And yup, I’ve got a recipe for that too!

You’re welcome.

(More below the fold…)

Eat to the Beat: Pepperoni Pizza Monkey Bread & The Monkees

Friday, October 19th, 2012


The song: “Hey Hey We’re the Monkees (Theme)” by The Monkees (lyrics)

The foodstuff: Pepperoni Pizza Monkey Bread (recipe below)

The connection: Is obvious!


Pepperoni Pizza Monkey Bread (0026)

Want a pizza bite? You’ll have to punch the monkey first!

As a kid, I was a ridiculous fan of The Monkees (the sitcom! and the boy band! back before there was such a thing as boy bands!), cheesy as they were. Of course, this was the ’80s (oh how I date myself!), so I met Davy, Micky, Peter, and Mike in reruns. In the ’90s, I fancied myself a hippie, and often looked as though I could stand in as an extra on the show. When I wasn’t dressing all in black lingerie, anyway. Twenty years later, and I’m still nursing a secret crush on…well, I’ll never tell. That’s what makes it secret!

I even have a little plush monkey that plays the cymbals while singing the theme song to The Monkees. It was a x-mas gift from mom – when I was 28 or so. Don’t wanna grow up, you can’t make me.


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Fresh bread, in your face.

So I’ve been meaning to veganize the many Pepperoni Pizza Monkey Bread recipes I’ve seen circulating the interwebs, and Vegan MoFo seemed the perfect time. I mean, hello! Monkey Bread. The Monkees. Talk about your OTPs.

Though it’s a total pita to make (not difficult, just a little tedious), the final product is amazaballs – so worth it! Basically what you have are 48 or so individual pizza rolls, coated in margarine and spices, and baked together to form one ginormous pizza-cake-shaped-bread-thingie. If you have any leftovers (Doubtful! Shane and I polished off more than half the loaf – loaf? pie? cake? idk! – in one sitting), pop ’em in the oven on a pizza stone or similar at 425F for about ten minutes. That’s just enough time for the cheese to get all melty and gooey again. Good as new!


Pepperoni Pizza Monkey Bread (0043)

The underside of the loaf is a delicious neon, much like your brain on carbs.

I actually made this dish twice. I keep telling myself that the reason for the repeat is because I wasn’t happy with the first batch of photos – but, if I’m being honest, I really just wanted to have Pizza Monkey Bread again! (But still, the second photo shoot? Way cuter! With a treeloot monkey and everything!)


Pepperoni Pizza Monkey Bread (0061)

Itty bitty baby bites! Don’t worry, I’ll be gentle.

Pro tip: Use AT LEAST six ounces of cheese! I trusted my pizza bread to the Follow Your Heart brand and, while there are plenty of haters out there, it melted like a charm. Any block-form vegan cheese will work, though: Teese, Daiya wedges, whatever. The first time around, I underestimated how much cheese could fit in a bite, and ended up with pizza bread tragically lacking in cheesiness. The cheese liquifies as it melts, thus taking up less space – so keep this in mind when considering the optimal cube size.


Pepperoni Pizza Monkey Bread (0064)

Hot oozy FYH action. (It really DOES melt!)

When in doubt: add more cheese! That’s my motto, anyway.

We’re just trying to be friendly,
Come watch us sing and play.
We’re the young generation,
And we got something to say.

You’re dancing, aren’t you? ME TOO!


Pepperoni Pizza Monkey Bread (0018)

Paint me like one of your french rolls.

(More below the fold…)

Eat to the Beat: Nacho Pizza & The Beatles

Friday, October 5th, 2012


The song: “Blackbird” by The Beatles (lyrics)

The foodstuff: Nacho Pizza

The connection: Straight from the Blackbird Pizzeria specialty pizza menu.


Nacho Pizza, a la Blackbird (0003)


Of all the specialty pizzas offered by Blackbird, it was the Yukon pizza I most wanted to make. But been there, done that! – and, since one of my Vegan MoFo goals is to try all new recipes, I settled on the Nacho pizza instead. Avocados, jalapenos, caramelized onions, Daiya cheddar cheese – do I have your attention, vegans?

Since I’m kind of a baby when it comes to hot foods, this pie was all Shane’s. (I got my own Daiya cheese pizza, with fresh tomatoes and black olives – may favorites! – so no worries.) Though he’s never before had avocados on a pizza (we’re not a big avocado family, don’t ask me why), he proved an instant convert. The avocados offered more volume per slice, while the sweetness of the caramelized onions complemented the spicy jalapenos. And who doesn’t love Daiya cheese?

He’s a moderately spicy kind of guy – when we buy jarred salsa, he goes with medium – and reports that one jalapeno (with two to three rounds per slice) made for a hot enough pizza without going overboard. If you’ve built up a greater tolerance, try two (or even three, dog help ya). The more you know!


Nacho Pizza, a la Blackbird (0028)


Nacho Pizza

(Inspired by the Nacho Pizza at Blackbird Pizzeria.)


…for a Fluffy White Pizza Crust

1 cup warm water (110 degrees F / 45 degrees C) [Optional: sub in 1/2 cup of plain soy milk; this gave us a slightly thinner crust.]
1 tablespoon sugar
2 1/4 tablespoons active dry yeast
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

…for the pizza

2 large onions
2 teaspoons olive oil and/or margarine
a dash of salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar (optional)
1-2 avocados, peeled and sliced
1-2 jalapenos, cut into rounds
Cheddar Daiya cheese
Red pizza sauce
Cornmeal or cooking spray with which to coat the pizza stone or pizza pan


1. To prepare the dough: stir the water, sugar and yeast together until dissolved. Add the olive oil and salt, as well as any extra spices or seasonings. Stir in the flour until blended. Form the dough into a small ball and let rest in large bowl, covered loosely with a towel, anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours.

2. At least an hour before you’d like to start making the pizza, prepare the caramelized onions. (Alternately, you can prepare them ahead of time and store them in the fridge.)

Peel the onions and remove the top and bottom ends. Cut each onion in half, then slice lengthwise to the desired thickness. Coat the bottom of a large sauté pan with olive oil (about two teaspoons) or a mix of olive oil and margarine. Bring to heat on medium-high; when the oil is hot (but not smoking), add the onions, spreading them out evenly in the pan. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a dash of salt and, if desired, a tiny bit of sugar to aid in the caramelizing.

Cover and cook on medium-low for another 30 minutes or so, stirring occasionally so as to prevent the onions from sticking to the pan. If they begin to dry out, add a splash of water. As the onions cook down, you may want to reduce the heat to low; you’ll also need to stir the onions more often near the end of the process. If necessary, add a little extra olive oil to prevent them from sticking to the pan. The onions are done once they reach a rich, brown color. (See, e.g, this or this.)

3. When you’re ready to assemble and bake your pizza, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Spread a dusting of cornmeal onto your pizza stone (or lightly coat your pizza pan with cooking spray). Using fingers dipped in olive oil (optional), pat the dough onto the stone, spreading it out evenly.

4. Add your toppings: pizza sauce, followed by the cheddar cheese, caramelized onions, jalapenos, and avocados.

5. Bake at 425 degrees, for between 15 and 20 minutes for a single pizza, or 30 minutes for two pizzas.

6. Enjoy!


Nacho Pizza, a la Blackbird (0036)


On another note, check out this awesome tee I scored for just $2 on my most recent trip to Goodwill.

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The pizza is really a book.

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I wonder if the book is hollowed out and stuffed with another pizza, Inception styley? A pizza within a book within a pizza within a book within a bowl of mac & cheese? Who knows! Just throw a dog in there and this is my idea of heaven.

It’s a kid’s shirt, but a large, so I can just barely squeeze my person into it. Works for me!


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Eat to the Beat

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Take the bruschetta, put it on a pizza.

Saturday, August 25th, 2012

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Remember that Fresh from the (Olive) Garden Bruschetta I posted earlier in the week? Well, I put it on a pizza! (OF COURSE I put it on a pizza!)

As much as I enjoy bruschetta on bread toasted with a bit of margarine and parmesan cheese, it’s infinitely better in pizza form. It’s easier to eat, for one, and is also covered in ooey, gooey, melty Daiya cheese. (Though you can omit this for a healthier pie. Still delish!) Bonus points: the olive oil/balsamic vinegar sauce adds a deep, rich flavor to the dough that’s hard to beat. Almond-based vegan parmesan cheese is the figurative cherry on top.

A must for tomato lovers. And really, what pizzanista isn’t?

As always, head on over to the PPP blog for the recipe!


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More Homemade Pizza Sauce! (Easy, Vegan, Delicious)

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

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More homemade pizza sauce! Perhaps you’ve noticed that this week’s batch is more colorful and not quite as homogenous in appearance as the sauce I blogged last week? (In which case: yay, you get a gold star!) That’s because I blended the tomatoes in the food processor before cooking them, not after, and so all the extra spices and veggies and good stuff didn’t go through with them. Basil, who knew you were so pretty in red?

While both sauces are equally delicious, this recipe is a little less tedious because you don’t need to slice and dice the tomatoes – just pop ‘em in the food processor and let it do all the work! Plus, no oven roasting, which is mos def a bonus in the hot summer months.

Put it on a pizza:

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Or a bowl of pasta or use it as a dip for french bread. I won’t judge, I love all the carbs equally.

As always, click on over to the PPP blog for the recipe!

(I know I’m such a tease.)

Homemade Pizza Sauce!

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

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Stepping up my game with homemade pizza sauce, yo! This blend is a mix of the Marinara Sauce from Cooking Vegan and slow, oven-roasted tomatoes straight from the garden. Seasoned with basil, oregano, garlic, onions, black pepper, and just a hint of brown sugar and pulverized in the food processor for a sauce that goes on creamy but still knows how to do the truffle shuffle. (Read: “is chunky.” Goonies reference for the win!) Perfection!

Exhibit B: a tomato and Daiya cheese pizza slathered in homemade sauce.

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I love summer, heat waved be damned.

As per usual, the recipe can be found on the PPP blog!

Vegan Veggie Ranch Pizza

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

Ranch dressing! On a pizza!

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I have seen the hidden valley, and it is divine!

Seriously though, this pizza? THIS PIZZA.

With diced zucchini, carrots, broccoli, and green peppers, vegan bacon bits, and mozzarella and cheddar Daiya cheese.

Marinara & Mozzarella Pizza

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

File this one under “excuses to eat more pizza.”

2012-07-18 - Marinara & Mozzarella Pizza - 0009

With garden-fresh tomatoes, homemade marinara sauce, and Follow Your Heart cheese, all on a rosemary crust.

And there’s a recipe, praise be!

Cookbook Review: Cooking Vegan, Vesanto Melina & Joseph Forest (2012)

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

Cooking Vegan: You Know It!

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: the publisher sent me a free copy of this book for review.)

The second collaboration between (vegan) dietician Vesanto Melina and (not-vegan) professional chef Joseph Forest, Cooking Vegan: healthful, delicious, and easy is a nice introductory vegan cookbook, particularly for newbie vegans and skeptical omnivores, as well as veteran vegans who want to eat a more healthful diet.

With chapter headings like “Vegan Nutrition” and “Vegan Ingredients,” the first fifth of the book is devoted to describing the basic building blocks of a vegan diet: fats, sweeteners, nondairy milks, soy foods, thickening agents, etc. (Spoiler alert: the age old question “But where do you get your protein?” will be answered!) There’s also some more general info about organizing your workspace, following recipes, and the like. Twelve suggested “theme” menus (Children’s; Super Simple; North American; Japanese) provide additional guidance for overwhelmed cooks.

Now for the food! The recipes in Cooking Vegan are divided between nine categories: breakfasts and beverages; dips, spreads, snacks, and sandwiches; soups; salads; salad dressings; entrées; sauces and gravies; side dishes; and sweet treats. Each recipe is accompanied by detailed nutritional information, and many come with suggested variations.

Before I begin reviewing a cookbook, I leaf through the recipes and come up with a list of dishes I’d like to try, so that I can check my pantry for ingredients and update my shopping list accordingly. For Cooking Vegan, this meant about thirty recipes, give or take – roughly enough to fill up a sheet of legal paper. At this point, I’ve tackled about half of them – enough that I feel comfortable writing a review.

With few exceptions, I enjoyed nearly all of the dishes I tried. In particular, the Scrambled Tofu, Marinara Sauce, Tapenade and Pesto Pizzas (including the pizza dough!), Good Morning Granola, Mac Uncheese, Light Mushroom Gravy, and Vegan Dazs Ice Cream stand out in memory, and all will be joining the regular rotation here in the Garbato-Brady household. (Actually, the Vegan Dazs already was a staple, just under another name: One-ingredient banana ice cream. Look it up!) The sole dud? The Holiday Pie Topping, which has a rather unpleasant aftertaste.

Still on my to-do list: Gooda Cheez (for which I bought a bag of agar, all special!); Heart Healthy Hummus; Black Bean Soup; Tuscan Minestrone; Wild Rice Salad; Shepherd’s Pie; Mushroom Lentil Patties; Corn with Bell Peppers; Scalloped Potatoes; Cashew Cheeze Lasagne; Blueberry Muffins; Almond Butter Balls; and the Cashew Cream Topping. I’ll blog these as I get to them, so keep an eye out!

Based on my experience, the recipes found in Cooking Vegan are straightforward and easy to follow, with few unusual or hard-to-find ingredients required. While some of the recipes (such as the Mac Uncheese) call for a second recipe (in this case, the Gee Whiz Spread), this is kept to minimum, with one added recipe at most. (One notable exception are the pizzas, which reference recipes for dough and a topping. Both of which are super-easy to make!) When referring you to another recipe, the authors include a page number, which I really appreciate. (All that flipping back and forth to the index when you’re trying to cook dinner? No thanks!)

My main complaint is that Melina and Forest are rather light-handed with the seasonings. With the Scrambled Tofu, for example, I found myself doubling – even tripling – up on some of the spices. Likewise, before I worked my magic, the Mediterranean Lentil Soup could best be described as “bland.” Still, the fix for this is easy enough: taste, taste, taste! as you cook, and don’t be afraid to adjust the ingredients to fit your own style.

As someone who’s been experimenting with banana ice cream for a while now, I do have to point out one glaring error in the Vegan Dazs Ice Cream recipe. While the primary recipe uses a juicer to blend the fruit (I’ve yet to wrap my mind around the logistics of this…not a big juicer, me), one variation gives these instructions for using a food processor: 2 cups of frozen bananas to 1 cup nondairy milk; serve immediately. In my experience, it’s best to use as little liquid (be it nondairy milk, creamer, or water) as possible, since the liquid will form ice crystals as it freezes. While it’s clear that Melina and Forest don’t intend for this version to be frozen and enjoyed later, there’s no reason why it can’t be!

Either way, one part liquid to two parts bananas is still excessive, even if you’re enjoying it immediately as soft serve. Better to leave the frozen bananas to defrost on the counter for 30 to 60 minutes prior to making the ice cream – this will give you a richer, creamier dessert, whether eaten soft serve or frozen ice cream styley.

Under the jump: photos and summaries of all the dishes I tried. Feast your eyes!


(More below the fold…)


Saturday, June 30th, 2012

Happy Vegan Pizza Day, y’all!

We celebrated with not one, but two vegan pies:

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#1 – A french fry pizza with cheddar Daiya cheese and thin-cut fries. It’s basically this recipe, but with thinner fries and slightly less cheese.

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#2 – A breakfast pizza with garlic sauce, scrambled tofu & veggies, and cheddar Daiya cheese. Recipe coming soon! here! The recipe is here!

Don’t forget to share photos of your Vegan Pizza Day eats @ fuck yeah vegan pizza for a chance to win a $50 gift certificate to the vegan store of your choice. The contest is open internationally and you have until Monday night. Vegan pizza for all the peoples!

Vegan Pizza Day Giveaway @ fuck yeah vegan pizza!

Friday, June 29th, 2012


Happy Vegan Pizza Day, y’all! Well, VPD doesn’t technically begin for another nine hours, but we’re celebrating all weekend long at fuck yeah vegan pizza. (And at the Garbato-Brady household. I just polished off a slice of leftover za while writing this post. True story!)

The festivities include a shiny new contest! From now through Monday night, send us a pic of your Vegan Pizza Day (or Weekened! we don’t care!) eats for a chance to win a $50 gift certificate to the vegan store of your choice. It’s that easy!

Deets here. The giveaway is hosted tumblr, but you don’t need a tumblr account to enter! And it’s international! Vegan pizza for everyone!


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Saturday Night is Pizza Night! Pie #1 = cheddar Daiya cheese, Lightlife Smart Pepperoni, and black olives. Pie #2 is topped with vegan mac n’ cheese – specifically, the “Mac Daddy” recipe from Veganomicon. The dough didn’t quite rise enough, but the pizzas are still delicious.

Too bad Shane wasn’t home to try ’em – he had to take Jayne to the animal e.r. after she was bit by a woodchuck she managed to corner in the yard. She’s had all her shots, so she’ll be okay, but he tore a decent-sized hole in her chest.

Of course this all happened just as the pies were going in the oven. Jayne, your timing.


Thursday, May 31st, 2012

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Don’t ask me why I decided to make such a labor-intensive pizza on a day when the heat index topped 100F –

so much sauteing! and the boiling! hot noodles! please dog just let me crawl into a hole filled with ice cream and die!

– but I did and it was totally worth it. Best pizza I’ve had in a while. 180+ minutes to make, less than 8 minutes to eat. NO REGRETS.

Inspired by a pie from Ian’s that I spotted on tumblr, this pizza sports a layer of lasagna as I typically make it: namely, filled with tender, sauteed goodness like mushrooms, garlic, carrots, zucchini, and cauliflower. And cheese. Mozzarella Daiya as far as the tongue can stretch!

To wit, a cross-section:

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Just look at all that hot, juicy veggie action! What do vegans eat? THIS, PEOPLE! THIS IS WHAT VEGANS EAT!

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Head on over to the PPP blog for the recipe!

Soup, meet pizza. Pizza, soup.

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

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Vegan pizza with a savory veggie broth crust! This is pretty similar to the crust we normally make, but with veggie broth in place of water and extra spices to amp up the flavor. Delicious and savory and not at all subtle. Like eating a bowl of vegan chicken noodle soup with your pizza!

Vegan Junk Food Cookbook Review: Riots, not diets!

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

Vegan Junk Food by Lane Gold (2011)


five out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review from the publisher.)

Lane Gold’s Vegan Junk Food is my new favorite cookbook. (The previous title holder? Wheeler del Torro’s The Vegan Scoop – which should tell you a little sumthin’ sumthin’! Namely, that I like my vegan food filled with empty calories.) At my request, I was lucky enough to receive a review copy – along with two copies to give away – from the publisher, Adams Media. With a name like “Vegan Junk Food,” I figured it couldn’t disappoint.

Whether you like your junk food sweet or savory, chocolaty or cheesy, Lane (can I call you Lane?) has got you covered. The 225 recipes in this collection are divided into ten categories: breakfast foods; deli favorites (i.e., sandwiches, wraps, burgers, and sliders); comfort-meets-takeout foods (entrees); crusts and carbs (pizzas and breads); festive grub (party foods!); dips, hummus, and sauces (including sundae toppings!); savory treats; cakes; candies and cookies; and grab ‘n’ go sweets (brownies and bars). As you can see, the recipes are roughly divided between meal-type items (entrees, main courses) and snacks/desserts.

The husband and I tried out about twenty recipes before I sat down to write this review; and, while I don’t usually review cookbooks, this is easily the largest number of recipes I’ve sampled for a cookbook review, like, ever. (I just couldn’t stop myself; everything looks so good!) Possibly it’s the most recipes I’ve made from a single cookbook, period. Though I own a ridiculous number of them, I don’t use cookbooks with much frequency; more often I cook from memory or pull recipes off the internet. But Vegan Junk Food? Most definitely joining my repertoire!

The book’s obvious strength, of course, is the food: oodles and oodles of junk food! Pizza. Pasta. Tacos. Pot pies. Casseroles. Cupcakes, pies, and brownies. Empty calories as far as the eye can see! Wait, that’s not entirely fair: some of these foods aren’t all that bad for you. Ironically, many of the recipes in Vegan Junk Food are actually healthier than my own versions. The Mac and Cheese Bake, for example, uses a vegan Velveeta-like cheese sauce made of potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, nutritional yeast, and soy milk. Even factoring in the additional vegan cheese shreds in this dish, it’s still way better for you than my own mac & cheese recipe, which is basically just pasta and processed vegan cheeses (namely, Daiya and Follow Your Heart). Don’t let the book’s title fool you: while these foods may look and taste like junk food, they’re not all super-trashy.

With options for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert, Vegan Junk Food is versatile. Mix and match the recipes for something new – or experiment to make them your own. For example, I used leftovers from some of the recipes to create new banana ice cream dishes!

While some of the recipes call for pricey vegan meats and cheeses, Gold doesn’t rely on these products exclusively. (Unlike the PPP blog, Vegan Junk Food doesn’t read like a Lightlife ad!) In fact, she offers diy recipes for many of these vegan staples so you can make ’em your own bad self, oftentimes at a fraction of the price! See, e.g., gravy (page 61); ricotta (pg. 120); sour cream (pg. 120); cheese sauce (pg. 121) basil pesto (pg. 124); and ranch dressing (pg. 126), to name just a few!

My complaints are few and relatively minor. Some recipes reference other recipes – to return to the Mac and Cheese Bake, the Cheese Sauce is its own recipe, located in a different section of the book – but don’t include a page number alongside the recipe title, thus forcing the reader to consult the index in order to find it. A minor annoyance, compounded by the index’s lack of user friendliness. (I find it counter-intuitive and difficult to use.) An estimated cook time and rating for difficulty on each dish would have been nice too, but I suppose both are easy enough to gauge by reading through the instructions.

I also ran into issues with two of the recipes – the Almond Joy Bar Cake and the Red Pepper, Caramelized Onion, and Hash Brown Quiche – which I’ll explain below. Still, out of twenty recipes, two small glitches? Not so bad! Especially when you consider my lackluster track record with baked goods. Brownies, why you no like me?

What follows is a run-down of all the dishes I’ve tried thus far. I’ve only tackled about half the items on my to-do list, so I’m far from done with this cookbook! I’ll post additional pictures as I take them, so keep an eye out for those.


  • Pesto Chicken Pizza with Creamy Garlic Sauce (page 85)

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    This was the first recipe we tried out, and quite possibly it’s also my favorite! The pureed white beans, seasoned with vegetable broth, nooch, and garlic, makes for a savory and filling pizza sauce, and the Basil Pesto is simple yet delicious. Enjoy this pizza with a fork and bib, though – it’s a messy one!

    (More below the fold…)

  • French Fry Pizza!

    Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

    It HAD TO HAPPEN, people! I’m just amazed that it didn’t happen sooner.

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    2012-02-26 - Baked French Fry Pizza - 0005

    And yes, it’s every bit as tasty and cheesy and carbalicious as it looks!

    Anyway, you can check out the recipe here. It’s pretty simple, really: basically just red sauce, vegan cheddar cheese, and french fries on your favorite pizza crust. I experimented with some different prep methods on the french fries – frozen vs. half-baked vs. deep-fried – and am happy to report that they’re all winners.

    In other news, I’m giving away five coupons good for free Lightlife products over on fuck yeah vegan pizza. You have until Sunday morning to enter, and need not have a tumblr account, so get to it! Free stuff!