Monthly Archives: September 2012

Panzanella Pizza

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Is anyone else still juggling dozens of summer tomatoes? You may have heard of a bumper crop, but this summer, we ended up with several cardboard boxes of heirloom tomatoes from my parents’ organic garden. We were literally bumping into them at every turn in our kitchen. We considered opening a small farm stand or something. There were tomatoes in yellow, orange, red, green  and purple. Grape-sized, roma-variety and huge fat juicy ones bigger than our hands. These jewels became an embarrassment of riches – the plants were taller than the family house and yielded a constant stream of perfect tomatoes. My parents dried them, canned then, grilled them – and still had enough to give away entire boxes to friends, family, neighbors and shelters.

We made jars of salsa and pasta sauce. Ate endless tomato sandwiches. Tossed them in pasta and salads. And then one evening, we came up with this simple, yet delectable tomato pizza recipe.

Panzaella Pizza

2 lb. fresh whole wheat pizza dough (make your own or try Trader Joe’s)

1/2 cup vegan pesto (try our recipe!)

1 container vegan cream cheese (we used Toffuti brand)

5 to 7 medium size heirloom tomatoes, your favorites

about a dozen mini tomatoes (like cherry tomatoes)

1/2 cup chopped green onions

2 cups fresh arugula

1/4 cup sliced black olives

salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450 and shape dough into two rectangles, each about 12″ by 9,” rolled very flat. Bake in oven on a sheet pan or pizza stone for about 12 to 15 minutes until crisp.  Cool until no longer hot to touch.

Meanwhile slice the heirloom tomatoes and mini tomatoes to uniform thickness. Stir together pesto and vegan cream cheese.

Slather pesto/cream cheese mixture evenly on baked crust. Layer tomatoes and arugula on pizza; top with olives and green onions.

Slice each pizza into 8 pieces. Serve room temperature.

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DC VegFest – Tomorrow!

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If you are anywhere even kind of close to Washington DC tomorrow, Saturday September 22nd, you must set a clear course for the DC VegFest. It is an event like none other. Seriously, it will inspire you, move you and of course, feed you. Really, really feed you. Maybe you should skip dinner tonight and breakfast tomorrow, so you are prepared for the eating you will want to do.

We attended last year for the first time and the experience was head-spinning. (You can see the post/photos from last year’s event here.) There were so many options of things to eat, it was overwhelming.

The DC VegFest is at a different location this year, Yards Park, and will have more than 100 vendors, as well as some impressive speakers, including cookbook author Terry Hope Romero ( Vegan Cupcakes Take over the World, anyone?), Dr. Michael Greger from the HSUS and author Afya Ibomu (Vegan Soulfood Guide to the Galaxy). And don’t forget DC’s own vegan royalty – Doran Peterson from Stickyfingers! She’ll be there too, signing books and giving a talk.

Oh – and new this year is a beer/wine garden and a special tent for children with games, face-painting, storytelling and gluten-free/nut-free/vegan cookies! You can still bring your well-behaved dog along, just like last year. In fact, there will be doggie rest stations with water and vegan pooch biscuits. Love it.

You can attend for FREE and the first 1000 people in the gate get FREE goodie bags. It will be from 11am to 6pm at the Yards Park. Directions by Metro, bus and car are available on the website, as well as a list of vendors and schedule of speakers. They also have a handy FAQ you should check out as well, before you pack your appetite and hop on the metro. Be sure to bring cash – you don’t want to waste time standing in line at the ATM. After all, many vendors sold out last year!

See you there!

Hippie Chips: Get Crunchy

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When we saw a bag of Hippie Chips by Rock-n-Roll Gourmet at our local super market, we had to try them. After all, it’s about time someone recognized and made chips just for people like us. 🙂   I mean, seriously, you must know by now that hippies want to eat more than just granola. (hee hee)

Rock-n-Roll Gourmet was founded in June 2009 with the mission to produce healthy, great-tasting snacks. They are a company of music lovers and musicians who, confronted by unhealthy snack food choices traditionally found at most live performance venues, recognized an unfilled niche for a healthy-yet-delicious snack alternative. The snacks that Rock-n-Roll Gourmet makes are low-cal, low-fat, gluten free, non-GMO, certified Kosher and contain no MSG or trans-fats. That’s good news when you’ve got the munchies. Oh – and they’re made in the USA. Love that.

They make six kinds of savory Hippie Chips, three are vegan and three are vegetarian:

Vegan Baked Potato Chips:

Haight-Ashberry Jalapeno, Memphis Blues Barbeque and Sea of Love Salt

Vegetarian Baked Potato Chips:

Lime is on My Side Cracked Pepper (whey); White Room Cheddar (whey, cheese, buttermilk); Woodstock Ranch (buttermilk)

We tried the Haight-Ashberry Jalapeno Hippie Chips. The flavor and texture were great. They reminded us of PopChips with more attitude and a bit of kick. And the 1 oz. bag was a great portion size.

Rock-n-Roll Gourmet also makes several sweet snacks, which are all vegetarian (contain dairy).

If you want to grab a bag of munch-able Hippie Chips for yourself, you can check local grocery stores (ours were found at a Maryland Safeway in the natural foods aisle), or order online right from the source. Sample one bag or buy a dozen and use them for lunches and snacks. Heck, if you’re a hippie, you could carry a bag to your next concert or protest. Crunch on, man.

The Vegan Version’s Chorizo Stuffed Veggies

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We love reading other vegan blogs, and recently stumbled upon a delicious recipe by the folks over at The Vegan Version and decided to give it a go. It was for Veggie Chorizo Stuffed Mushrooms. We had a pack of Trader Joe’s soy chorizo in the fridge and all other other ingredients on the list – except mushrooms. So, what the heck, we stuffed zucchinis instead. These zucchinis were small and were the variety that grows into a round ball instead of the usual oblong shape. They made an excellent “stuffing” vessel in the absence of mushrooms.

Overall, we followed the Vegan Version’s Veggie Chorizo Stuffed Mushroom recipe pretty closely. We used a package of Trader Joe’s soy chorizo, a small red onion, green and red peppers, vegan cream cheese (Toffuti brand), olive oil and salt/pepper. We did add an additional Tablespoon of panko bread crumbs and we tossed in about two teaspoons of Italian seasoning mix, too. The mixture came together perfectly and was delicious in our hollowed-out zucchini balls. Oh – it did take a slightly longer baking time – probably because the zucchini was much thicker than mushrooms. We needed 40 minutes in the oven rather that 20.

The resulting supper was delicious. We shared it with non-veg family members, as a sidenote. They had some concerns that the “weird vegan dinner” might not be filling or flavorful. Nothing could have been further from true! The Vegan Version’s Veggie Chorizo Stuffed Mushroom recipe was both simple and tasty. No one had room for two of these little guys – they were very satisfying with a multitude of flavors and textures.  To seal the deal – someone even asked for the recipe! Thanks, Vegan Version, for this winning combination!

As you know, this is not our original creation, and since I don’t have permission to reprint, I’m going to advise you to click right over to the Vegan Version and try this recipe yourself!

Sweeties: RJ’s Candies

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You thought we only liked chocolates, didn’t you? Cuz whenever you read one of our “sweeties” column, it’s usually about chocolate or something you can eat with chocolate. Well, we are not just cocoa-holics. We also enjoy our sugar in other forms. Like soft, chewy licorice. Like RJ’s Licorice Logs.

They lovely candies have only 1 gram of fat per log, and possess soft, divine texture. The raspberry flavor is sweet, tangy and soooo chewy. And the traditional black licorice flavor has serious depth — like all those happy memories you have of black jellybeans sticking to your teeth, but rolled into a delish log of goodness!

RJ’s Licorice is made in New Zealand and available all over the world, including the U.S., Canada and England. For us, we buy ours at any number of places: our local grocery stores all carry them, and we’ve seen them in health food stores, too, like Whole Foods. The company is run by and father and son team, the Halliwells, who decided to do one thing and do it well: create the world’s best licorice treats.  Guys, we say you’ve got it.

They make other vegan-friendly licorice candy, too, but the logs are where it’s at. You can tuck one in your purse or lunchbag – even stash a few in the car console. Be sure to look for them at your local supermarket or health food store – they are either in the candy aisle or just near the register. Yum!

Rye Cocktail Toasts

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It’s getting to be the time of year when you want to wear socks again cuz the nights are cold and gatherings roll indoors cuz warm food is preferred to piles of raw fruits and veggies. Welcome fall! We’ve been expecting you.

Something about this recipe is always familiar and cozy. I have no clue if it’s actually from the 1950’s, but it seems to me like it could be. It just seems retro.

Rye cocktail toasts, piled high with sauted Gimme Lean crumbles and melty cheddar Daiya. Comfort food. This recipe is simple enough to have as a weeknight supper that you can eat while watching a movie – or it can change gears and work when you have company over, whether as an appetizer or to serve at a cocktail party. Versatile. And easy. And – all sorts of folks will respond to it. We often serve it to non-vegans and they like it too.

So go grab your fluffy socks, get comfy, and hit the kitchen. Dinner tonight is retro-style!

Rye Cocktail Toasts

1 loaf of pre-sliced rye cocktail toasts (also available in whole wheat and pumpernickel)

1 1/2 tubes of Lightlife Gimme Lean Sausage-style

1 tsp. olive oil

2 tsp. dried sage

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. black pepper

1 tsp. dried marjoram

1 tsp. dried tarragon

1 Tbl. whole fennel seeds

1 8 oz. pack cheddar Daiya shreds

Preheat oven to 350 and place all rye cocktail toasts on a baking sheet. Don’t overlap.

In a large pan, crumble the Lightlife Gimme Lean Sausage and add the olive oil, dried sage, salt, pepper, marjoram, tarragon and fennel seeds.  (We use a cast iron pan to make this.) When the sausage is browned and all the spices are combined, spoon an equal amount onto each rye toast and top with a few shreds of cheddar Daiya.

Put the topped toasts into the oven for about 10-15 minutes until the bread is crispy and the Daiya is melty. Serve warm.