Vegans can haz steak and mushroom pie?!!

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Oh yes we can! Sometimes sheeps like to dress up as wolves! So when vegans want to cheat on their vegetables they eat more vegetables that are dressed up as meat! There are so many faux meat products out there that taste amazing, but one of my favourites is Gardein. So today’s recipe uses one of their great products which is Beefless tips that taste amazingly like steak but no dead animals. So it’s a win win in my books! A British classic and a pub favourite, and probably one of only a few good recipes to come out of the UK, steak and mushroom pie, these beefless tips works marvelously!!

Gardein beefless tips

Gardein beefless tips

Ingredients:
Olive oil as needed
1 pkg Gardein Beefless tips
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic
8 oz mushrooms, chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp fresh sage
1/2  tsp thyme
1 bay leaf
3 tbsp flour
2 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
1/2 bottle of your favourite beer
1 cup vegetable broth
Pie Crust:
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup almond milk

Directions: In a large skillet fry beefless tips in olive oil as directed according to package. Remove and set aside in a bowl. Add more oil to frying pan and saute onions for 5 minutes on medium high heat, add garlic and saute for another 2 minutes. Add salt, spices and mix well. Add mushrooms and fry for another 7 – 10 minutes until all are wilted. Next is flour to the pan and while stirring add half a bottle of beer, while drinking the rest! Bring back the beefless tips to the pan and the vegetable broth and Worcestershire sauce and mix well. Let the sauce thicken on medium low heat for 15 minutes while you make the pie crust.

Steak and Mushroom Pie

Steak and Mushroom Pie

To make the pie crust, sift and mix flour and salt together into a large bowl. In a measuring cup add 1/2 a cup of vegetable oil (you can use olive oil as a healthy alternative) and top up to 3/4 cup with almond milk. with a fork mix vigorously. Add to flour mixture and incorporate with a rubber spatula. Use 2/3 of the dough for the bottom and roll it out between wax paper or saran wrap. The other 1/3 is for the top. Don’t worry if your dough is not uniform and is falling apart, the less you handle the dough the flakier it will be! Fill the pie with the filling and bake at 400 degrees F for 30 – 35 minutes, until you have a golden hue on your pie top.

Ginger on Sesame street makes a SALAD!

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My husband being of Scottish background looooooves Asian food. I mean who doesn’t? His favourite salad dressing is sesame ginger dressing. He puts that s#it stuff on everything, from rice to bread to noodles and occasionally on salads! And the famous Cool Hand Luke brand of sesame ginger dressing is pretty good, but I figured if my DH loves it so much I should really make my own! What does King Cool Paul Newman have that I don’t, other than blue eyes you can lose yourself in?

Salad with Sesame Ginger dressing

Salad with Sesame Ginger dressing

I didn’t go too crazy with the salad, just a big bunch of mesclun, shaved carrots and one green apple julienned. Plus the nuts and seeds I had on hand which happened to be almonds, pumpkin seeds and toasted sesame seeds! Of course I would have toasted sesame seeds.

Weird looking carrot?!

Carrots
I had to individually take off their organic sticker – Blah!

But the winner here is truly the dressing so let’s get down to it and start making this dressing.

The Dressing

The Dressing – Shaken not Stirred!

Ingredients:
2 inches of ginger, Minced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup sesame oil
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1/3 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons agave nectar

Directions:
Put all the ingredients in a mason jar, Close the lid and shake well. It’s that easy. Now pour it over your salad or your rice, or your noodles and enjoy!

Next time I’ll be adding mandarins and almond shavings…it will be epic!

Naughtiest Potato Chowder there ever was!

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Why is this potato chowder so naughty? Because it cheats and lies! But they are the good kind of cheating and lying. Hmm…maybe I have a wicked concept of what ‘good’ is!? Hahaha

Creamy Potato Chowder

Creamy Potato Chowder – Yum

Not sure if you knew this or not but most potato chowders aren’t vegetarian, yet alone vegan. Apparently they get their flavour from bacon fat!! Traditional potato chowders start by frying up diced bacon and then sautéing the onion in the fat of that bacon. As disgusting as animal fat is, the flavour cannot be replaced by just vegetable oil. But bacon gets a lot of it’s flavour from being cured, smoked and may even have extra seasoning added to it.
Back to why this potato chowder is so naughty! I decided to take the trick that bacon uses. As in add the flavour that’s added to bacon and add it directly to the soup and save the little piggy ;P I mean seriously!? I’m saving a whole lotta steps and not to mention misery! So simple…just add a dash or two of liquid smoke and along with some good for you fat from cashews and coconut oil we’ve got a naughty lil potato chowder that’s so creamy and Mmmmm…yummy that it satisfies those umami tastebuds! You’ll have people begging for seconds and thirds and the recipe of course!

Spices - Rosemary, White Pepper, Liquid Smoke

Spices – Rosemary, White Pepper, Liquid Smoke

Ingredients:
½ cup raw cashews (soaked in cold water for 2 hours)
1 sweet onion (chopped)
3 cloves of garlic (minced)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp coconut oil
8 medium red potatoes (diced 1×1 inch)
3 cups vegetable broth
1 cup water
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
½ tsp white pepper
⅛-¼ tsp liquid smoke
1 cup corn (optional)

Directions:
Soak 1/2 cup of raw cashews in 1 cup of cold water for 2 hours. Cashews don’t need to be soaked anymore than 2 hours, but if you really want to you can soak them over night. The soaking helps in the digestion of the nut.
In a big soup pot melt 1 tbsp of coconut oil over medium heat. Add chopped onions and sauté for 5-7 minutes. Add 1 tbsp of olive oil along with chopped garlic and continue to sautéing over medium heat for another 3-5 minutes.

Translucent onions!

Translucent onions!

Meanwhile, grind a heaping 1/2 tsp of rosemary into a fine powder, either in a mortar and pestle or a coffee grinder to make 1 tsp of powdered rosemary. Add this, along with the rest of the spices of 1 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp of white pepper to the onion and garlic and mix. Add the cubed up potatoes, mix well and add in 3 cups of vegetable stock along with one cup of water and the liquid smoke. Make sure the water level covers up all the potatoes. If it doesn’t, add enough water until it does.

Look at all those chopped potates

Look at all those chopped potates

Increase the heat until the stock starts to come to a boil. Then reduce the heat to a medium low and put the lid on with a crack, allowing the steam to escape. Let the soup cook for 20 to 30 minutes until the potatoes are fully cooked and the flavours are developed.

A peak inside the soup pot

A peak inside the soup pot

In the meantime, make your cashew cream. Rinse your soaking nuts (har har – I’m so funny!) with cold water and then blend it with one cup of cold water in a blender or I just did mine in my tiny food processor for a good 5 minutes until it was creamy.

Making Cashew Cream in food processor

Making Cashew Cream in food processor

After 20 minutes your potatoes should be cooked, if you’d cut them small enough. If not, you might need to give them more time. Stab a few of them with a fork and if they are fully cooked the skin should be falling apart. Oh yeah, I leave the skin on. The skin has most of nutrients and when blended make this tiny red bits that I lie to my meat eaters that they are the bacon bits. Well I don’t but I pretend on blogs that I do. I told you this chowder is naughty!!

Blend it - but don't over blend it!?

Blend it – but don’t over blend it!?

Add your cashew cream along with the corn and heat on through and serve. I like to sprinkle course salt on it and if you have some on hand, chives are great on this chowder!!

The naughty chowder!? Bon appétit

The naughty chowder!? Bon appétit

Chickpea and Mango are Saaging it Curry style!

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When I wasn’t vegan my favourite Indian dish at restaurants was Chicken Saag. I didn’t know what Saag meant, but I did know that cooked spinach magically became delicious in spicy curry sauce. So last week when I saw mangos on sale my tummy wired a message to my brain: Mango Saag and my brain decided to add the chickpeas for good measure. My brain’s smart like that you know!! ;)

Diced Mangos

Diced Mangos

I even google translated “Saag” just to satisfy my curiosity, and it literally means Greens, which makes sense as according to wikipedia: Saag is a Leaf-based (spinach, mustard leaf, Basella, etc.) dish eaten in South Asia.
But back to my Mango and Chickpea Saaging it. It’s unfortunate that I didn’t know about traditional saag containing more greens, which I will include next time I’m making this dish. But by all means feel free to add more leafy greens of your choice such as kale, collard greens, leeks, etc. when you’re making yours, and let me know how it turns out!

Chopped up: Garlic and Ginger

Chopped up: Garlic and Ginger

Ingredients:
3 tbsp olive oil
1 med. onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tbsp ginger, minced
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp garam masala
2 tbsp Pataks curry paste (Hot or Mild)
1 bunch spinach, chiffonade*
2 mangos, medium diced
2 14 oz can chickpeas
1 cup cold water
1 tbsp arrowroot flour

Directions:
Start by sautéing the onions in a large frying pan in 1 tbsp olive oil for about 3 minutes on medium heat. Add the garlic, ginger and 1 more tbsp olive oil and continue to sauté some more. Add the salt, spices and the Pataks curry paste. I like my curry to be spicy, so I buy the Hot or Madras curry paste which has quite a kick to it. But if you want your curry to be mild, then buy the mild curry paste. Even the mild one a bit of kick.
The beauty of curry paste is that at the end when you taste your dish and you want more hotness, you can dilute a little with some water and add more to the whole pot. Patak’s lists all of their vegan products on their website here, which is great!!

Chiffonade

Chiffonade
photo by: Lifeflix http://www.flickr.com/photos/lifeflix/

Best way to cut your spinach is to Chifonade, which is just a fancy French word for cutting your spinach as demonstrated oh so well in this picture. But you knew that ;)
Add the spinach to your frying pan, and add more olive oil if the pan is drying out. Fry the spinach until wilted then add your diced mangos and chickpeas, mix and incorporate everything together. I like arrowroot better than cornstarch, but you can sub cornstarch if you like and they both dissolve in cold water. Once all mixed up add it to the frying pan. When heated through the mixture should thicken. Put the lid on loosely and let the Saag cook on low to medium low heat for 15 minutes for all the spices to meld together.

Chickpea Mango Saag

Chickpea Mango Saag

Enjoy on top of basmati rice, or with some Indian bread, or both! Yumyum :P

This recipe makes quite a lot of food, and I’m being generous when I say it serves 6, but lets say it serves 6 hungry people. Based on that it’s only 254 calories per serving and only 7 g of fat. It also provides a whopping 43% of your vitamin A, 35% of your folate, and a high 56% of Manganese from all that spinach. For the full nutritional info of this recipe please go here. Bon Appetite!!

Does Apple Cake sound better in German – Apfelkuchen?

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When I lived in Germany I would often go to one of my best friend’s house for coffee after school. Her mom would make this amazing apple cake that was to die for! Apfelkuchen in German literally means Apple cake. Afterwards all high on coffee and the sugar from the cake we’d run around town being mischievous and young. I have fond memories of those times so the apple cake is not just a cake, and it’s not just a recipe, but it’s a time stamp in my youth.

A slice of Apfelkuchen

A slice of Apfelkuchen

Ingredients:

Ingredients

Ingredients

1 cup warm soy or almond milk
21/4 tsp (1 packet) yeast
11/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 1/4 cup flour (sifted)
1/8 salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup vegan butter (softened)
3-4 granny smith apples, sliced
topping:
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup ground almond
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegan butter (cold, cut up in cubes)
1 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp fresh nutmeg

Directions:
If you have a stand mixer or a bread machine this cake is a breeze. If you have to knead it yourself, well I hope you are strong like a stereotypical Bavarian muscle clad Apfelkuchen baking goddess!

Standmixer Extraordinary

Standmixer Extraordinary

Mix the yeast into the warm soy or almond milk and let it sit for 10 minutes to foam up and make certain your yeast is ALIVE [echo]…Then add all the ingredients, in the order given up to the apples into your bowl and put it into your hand mixer or breadmachine and let it mix it up into a smooth dough consistency.

Line a 9×13 baking dish w parchment paper (for easy cleaning and serving), and press down the dough onto it. Line up the apple slices on top to form two layers and let it rest for 30 minutes while you make the topping.
With a pastry knife or in a blender, blend all the topping ingredients. Sprinkle and pat them down over the cake like a crumble.
Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees F for 35-40 minutes, until golden brown. Mine actually wasn’t quite crispy on the top so I cranked the broiler and let the top get nice and crispy for a minute…

Enjoy with a cup of strong coffee and then go to town and raise hell. I know this is a favourite desert amongst the…shall we say mature mannered citizens of Germany, but a slice of Apfelkuchen always brings out the mischievous youthful nature in me!!

Apfelkuchen Collage

Sliced Apples to the Finished Cake

Curry paste to the rescue!

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I am about to share with you my favourite secret ingredient: curry paste!
Believe it or not, curry is not a spice! It’s a blend of many spices such as turmeric, cumin, coriander, ginger, paprika, and something to give it a kick such as dried red peppers. Since you can’t control the amount of each spice in the blend, most chefs prefer to either make their own pre-made blend or add the individual spices while cooking. But when I discovered Patak’s curry paste for the first time, It was like a yellow turmeric brick road to easy Indian cooking for eternity!

Hurried Curried Gardein

Hurried Curried Gardein

Back then my choices were limited to either “hot” or “mild” curry pastes. But now their line has expanded to not just different kinds of curry pastes, but also sauces, pickles and chutney! You can find a list of their vegan products on their website: here!
Well now that you know my favourite secret ingredient, let’s get cooking!

Hurried Curried Gardein

Prepping

Prepping: cashew cream, tomatoes, curry paste

Ingredients:
1 pkg gardein chik’n strips
1 medium white onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 inch ginger root, finely chopped
2 tbsp Patak’s mild curry paste
2 tbsp Patak’s hot (or Madras) curry paste
14 oz can whole tomatoes
14 oz can chickpeas
1 cup cashew cream (1/2 cup raw cashews + water)
1 cup roasted/salted cashews
15 fresh dates, pitted (or raisins)

Direction:
The ingredients I use at the end need to be ready to go, so I prep them before I start cooking. I start by making the cashew cream, which is super easy! Grind the raw cashews in a coffee grinder to a fine meal and add enough water to make a total of 1 cup and whisk vigorously with a fork and voila you have cashew cream! Remove the pits from your fresh dates and cut or tear each date into 3 or 4 pieces. You can substitute raisins or even chopped granny smith apples for the dates, but I just love dates so much that I can’t even imagine this dish without the dates!!! Chop and mince the rest of the ingredients and lets start cooking!

Gardein strips

Frying up the gardein strip

In a large fry ing pan, fry the frozen gardein strips for a total of 5 minutes in olive oil on medium/high heat. Remove the strips onto a plate, add some more olive oil to the pan and sauté the onions for 5 minutes; add the garlic and ginger and sauté for another 5 minutes. Add the curry paste and since the paste is somewhat oily you can stir and fry the onion mixture in the curry paste for a bit before adding the can of tomatoes. At the same time add 1 cup of water to the pan. Stir and add the chickpeas. Cook on medium/low heat for about 5 – 7 minutes, and stir ocasionaly. Add the dates, the roasted cashews and the gardein strips to the pan and stir to incorporate all the ingredients and distribute the heat to the added ingredients. By now the sauce should be drying out a bit and this is the perfect time to add the cashew cream. The cashew cream may have settled, so before you add it, whisk it vigorously again with a fork and add to the pan and stir. Let the sauce be thoroughly heated, and then it’s ready to be eaten!
Before serving, taste the sauce to make sure the spiciness is to your liking. You can add more cashew meal right in to the pan if it’s too spicy for you.

Cooking away..taste test?

Cooking away..taste test?

I’ve used a combination of both mild and hot curry paste because some of the family members can’t handle the heat, but I also didn’t want it to be too whimpy! If you like it hot, then by all means use only hot curry paste…but be forewarned that it’s gonna be really HOT! If you want just the aroma of curry and not spicy at all, then just use mild curry paste. Keep in mind that the cashew cream offsets the spiciness and you can control the heat to some extent by adding more cashew meal.

Bollywood worthy

Bollywood worthy

Serve over basmati rice with some papadoms or naan. I should warn you however that eating this dish may suddenly cause you to stop traffic in the middle of rush hour and dance to Bollywood tunes while professing your love to your sweetheart! Of course just the aroma of your fantastic Hurried Curried Gardein will propel your co-workers or neighbours to be your backup singers and dancers! So be aware of these side effects and contact a professional if they last more than 4 hours!
Enjoy :D


The effects of a good curry: “Jab We Met”

Fava Beans and a Nice Chianti!

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One of the most memorable movie quotes, in at least my life time, is that of Hannibal Lecter played by Anthony Hopkins’ in The Silence of the Lambs: “I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti“. Unfortunately since then fava beans have had a bad rap, and most people won’t give this delicious legume a chance because of that very chilling scene! Almost every time I mention I’m making fava beans to any of my friends they recite that line with the horrific stutter sound that Hopkins makes at the end of that scene! Well I hope that I can change your mind about poor old fava beans and get you to give it a go, and taste the buttery deliciousness of this legume!

Fava Beans are cooking

Fava Beans are cooking

Fava beans are actually sold at street vendors in Iran. Crazy, right? Here, there are hot dog stands, and in Iran there are fava bean stands! Of course what kid doesn’t like junk food? Fava beans just happened to be my childhood junk food in Iran. This recipe is so easy it’s ridiculous!

Fresh Fava Beans

Fresh Fava Beans – img source C’est La Vegan

Ingredients:
1 lbs Fresh organic fava beans, (broad beans)
salt to taste
olive oil (optional)

Directions:
Before starting the cooking, lets talk about how to buy fava beans in case you’ve never bought them fresh. When buying fava bean pods, you want to make sure that you are buying pods that are bright green in colour with no browning and firm to the touch. Feel the size of the beans inside the pods, to make sure they are large and firm beans. Not small unripe beans. The broader the beans, the better the taste, even if there’s just two beans in there, I’d take that over a skinny pod that’ll have 5 small beans! The larger and firm beans produce that creamy and buttery flavour that makes fava beans so yummy.

Wash the fava beans pods with cold water and put them in a big enough pot and top it with fresh cold water. Add some salt and get the heat going. Once you get it boiling, you can put the lid on with a bit of gap to allow steam to escape and reduce the heat to medium-high. Cook for about 45 minutes. Like most legumes, the more you cook it, the easier it is on your digestion and the less it will toot!! If the pods are falling apart and coming loose, and they’ve changed colour from bright green to a mossy green, then they are ready!
Once cooked, drain in a sieve and add a little or a lot of salt to your liking. I like a lot of salt..I’m bad that way ;)  and start shelling the beans. The outer pod, and the shells are edible, especially if the beans are young and fresh. I love the taste of all of it. But some people don’t, especially the pods. To shell,  just pinch an opening on the skin of one of the beans and push the bean out. It should slide right out. Some people like to add a bit of olive oil and salt….but I like it just with salt.

All of that fava beans - just for me! nomnoms!!

All of that fava beans – just for me! nomnoms!!

The benefits of fava beans are amazing. It’s the most protein loaded bean out there, and almost a complete protein! One cup packs in 12.9g of protein with 9g of fibre and less than 1g of fat, where as one large hard boiled egg has only 6.3g of protein, 5.3g of fat and absolutely no fibre!! For your daily requirements of vitamins fava beans has 11% Thiamin, 9% Riboflavin, 6% Vitamin B6 and a whopping 44% Folate!! And as for minerals it has 14% iron, 18% Magnesium, 21% Phosphorus, 22% Copper, and a huge 36% Manganese.
So have your fava beans with or without a nice Chianti, because it’s so good for your body that a glass of wine, with all it’s antioxidants will just make it even better! Besides, it’s junk food as far as I’m concerned! I like to have it watching tv with a glass of beer!!

The Salads – Some Like it Hot!

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Victoria BC is considered the Paradise of Canada, because it never gets too cold, too hot, too rainy, too snowy or too anything! The weather is pretty mild out here, but somehow people still manage to complain about it. For example a few days ago the temperature went as high as 25° Celsius (77° Fahrenheit)! Wow, the horrors! It was so hot that I decided to make a salad. But I still wanted some heat in that salad. Not the temperature kind, but the spicy kind!

Spicy Salad in the making

Spicy Salad in the making

Trying to incorporate other beans into our salad other than chickpeas, I was inspired Mexican and came up with this recipe:

The dressing - needs more tabasco - a few more drops!

The dressing – needs more tabasco – a few more drops!

Ingredients:
1 head of romaine lettuce
1 cup cooked black beans
1 ear of corn, shucked
1 red bell pepper
1 avocado
1 1/2 cups tortilla chips, crushed

dressing:
1/2 cup lime juice (2 med. size lime)
Zest of one lime
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp agave syrup
a dash or more of tabasco (depending on how hot you like it)
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cracked/crushed multicoloured or just black peppercorn
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp dried onions (optional)

Directions:
For the dressing, I add everything in a measuring cup and whisk, taste and add more tabasco or agave syrup if it needs it.
And for the salad, well that’s really self explanatory…cut what needs to be cut, crush what needs to be crushed and shuck what needs to be shucked and dump it all in a big bowl and toss. Shuck you ask? Have you ever shucked a fresh ear of corn? well you are in for a treat my dear..

Shucked ear of corn

Shucked ear of corn

You can eat corn raw, especially if it’s really fresh, locally grown. If you insist on cooking it, you can cook it in a bowl with some water in the microwave for a minute or two, or cook the corn on the cob and then shuck it. To shuck, line a plate with a towel to collect the corn that falls (which otherwise will fly everywhere). Cut the tip off the cob to create a flat end and then while holding it vertically by the stem with a chef’s knife slice down at the root of the kernel freeing the niblets off the cob one slice at a time as you rotate around the cob.

The dressing is more than enough for one head of lettuce. You could save half the dressing for another salad or next time you are making guacamole. The tortilla chips absorb a lot of the dressing so don’t think you need more if there isn’t a pool of dressing at the bottom of your bowl!

Unfortunately midway making this I realised we didn’t have any tortilla chips, so I toasted a pita bread and crushed that in to the salad. It worked! I think it’s a pretty easy going salad, and can work with a lot of substitutions and/or additions. For example you could use a tomato instead of a bell pepper, or just add a tomato and/or a cucumber into the mix. Mmmm cucumber! I might do that next time!!

Some Like it Hot Salad

Some Like it Hot Salad

The Kindest Marsala Dish out there!

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Marsala dishes used to be reserved for menus at fine dinning restaurants, or at your neighbourhood Italian Ristorantes, but these days they are popping up everywhere in  the menus of your middle of the road family restaurant chains such as Olive Garden or Carrabba’s. Of course none of them are vegan and the dishes are usually led by ‘Chicken’ or ‘Veal’! The horrors of chicken farming are bad enough, but the sadness of a calf dying to make your meal is even worse! I needed a kinder alternative, and well here we are. I present to you the Kindest Marsala dish out there.

Kindest Marsala Dish

Gardein Beef-less Marsala

Ingredients:
1 pkg Gardein Beef-less tips
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cup crimini mushrooms, sliced
3 tbsp flour
1/2 cup marsala wine
1 1/2 cup vegetable stock
1 tsp rosemary
1/4 tsp salt (add more to taste)
pepper to taste

Direction:
Start by heating the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium/high heat; add your chopped onions and sauté for about 5-7 minutes. Add your garlic and continue sautéing for another 3-5 more minutes. Add the spices, salt and pepper to your frying pan. Make sure you crush the dried rosemary in the palm of your hand – this allows for maximum flavour from your dried spices. Add the sliced mushrooms and a bit more olive oil (about 1 tbsp), incorporate everything together and continue sautéing. While the mushrooms are cooking (don’t forget to mix them every now and then), in another medium sized frying pan, preferably a stainless steel one, start frying the Gardein Beef-less tips as per the direction on the package, which should take about 5-7 minutes, and by that time your mushrooms should be cooked.

Gardein Beef-less Tips

Gardein Beef-less Tips

Add the cooked Gardein tips to your mushroom mixture, and while the stainless steel frying pan is still hot add the marsala wine to it. It’ll make a nice swoosh sound and start steaming up and give off a pleasant sweet wine smell. Add the vegetable stock and with a stiff spatula try to scrape off any stuck on Gardein tips in the frying pan. Let this stock simmer a bit on medium heat, and in your other frying pan add the flour one table spoon at a time, incorporating it into the mixture. Add your hot stock to it and a lovely thick gravy-like sauce will appear. If the sauce is too thick add up to a 1/4 cup hot water while mixing. Taste, and add salt if needed. I usually under-salt my recipes, as that’s my preference, but you may wish to add more salt if that’s more to your liking.

We enjoyed this Kind Marsala dish with some roasted potatoes and steamed broccoli, but this recipe is pretty versatile. It can be served over rice, with linguini, along side mashed potatoes or fancy it up beside some mashed cannellini beans (hmm..recipe coming soon to your blogerverse!?) and roasted asparagus. Now that’s my kind of fine dinning!

We love you Portland ❤

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Ask any vegan where in the world they’d love to live and I bet Portland would be high on their list! What other city has a vegan mall for crying out loud?!? Well okay it’s a mini-mall consisting of only of 4 stores, but it’s still called a mall, and they sell nothing but vegan stuff or services. That’s right, services! They have a vegan tattoo place alongside a clothing store, a grocery store and a cafe/bakery. So this past weekend I did a pilgrimage to Portland to worship the vegan Haven that Portland is and stuff my face full of vegan goodies! At this very same mini-mall, after my grocery shopping at Food Fight, and cool vegan t-shirt shopping at Herbivore, I needed a break so I went for a cupcake at Sweet Pea Baking Co. I was thinking of ordering a sort of iced coffee but unfortunately their espresso machine was having a tantrum and refusing to work, so the guy suggested a chai latte. I thought that’s a great idea, and ordered it. Sat at a table, started eating my yummy lemon cupcake, which was AMAZING and drinking my chai latte which was pretty good, and suddenly I freaked out as I had forgotten to order it with soy milk! Went back to the till, and said to the guy (apologetically – you know us Canadians so sorry for everything!) that I had forgotten to ask for soy milk. He said: “Oh, no worries, it comes with soy milk, we don’t carry cow milk!” HOW COOL IS THAT!!!!

Portland, OR

Portland, OR

When we first drove into town I couldn’t wait to get to Voodoo Doughnut. If you didn’t already know, vegan doughnuts are a rare commodity and so most of us go a bit coocoo for doughnuts…well vegan ones. Even those of us who didn’t care much about doughnuts as non-vegans will go crazy over them now! If you’ve never heard of Voodoo Donoughts, then you probably aren’t aware that even non-vegans go coocoo over them! There’s always a line up, even though the place is open 24/7! Crazy!

Voodoo Doughnuts - with a pretzel stake in the heart!

Voodoo Doughnuts – with a pretzel stake in the heart!

Actually the main reason we went to Portland was to see Cirque du Soleil, currently on tour with their show OVO. I can’t say enough good things about the Cirque, one of them being that it’s Canadian! I’ve been a cirque fan since the mid 1990’s, pretty early on in their evolution of becoming a world renown entertainment giant. The beauty of the cirque is that they don’t use any animals in their circus acts! It shows that amazing and awe inspiring circus entertainment can be had without abusing animals!

Cirque du Soleil - Ovo

Cirque du Soleil – Ovo

My husband and I have been going to the cirque every couple of years around our wedding anniversary for the past 8 years. We do it right and get the VIP tickets to get the royal treatment and amazing seats! 5 years ago when I had just recently gone vegan, we had already bought our VIP tickets, and the wining and dining wasn’t that spectacular for me as the only thing I could eat were raw vegetables!! So for the next time I told hubby not to bother anymore. But he didn’t listen and made me contact Cirque du Soleil. He had way more faith in them than I did. Well if I thought they treated us like royalty before, this time they treated me more like a goddess! They fawned over me like I was a precious jewel! I had never been taken care of to such a degree. It was almost embarrassing! They brought me a special table with an arrangement of vegan foods and more if I wanted. It was the most spectacular vegan dinning experience of my life, and I wasn’t even there to dine, I was there to see a show! That was two years ago in Vancouver for Kooza!

Back at the hotel with all our Cirque gifts

Back at the hotel with all our Cirque gifts

This time in Portland, they had vegan wine, Champaign and beer and I hadn’t even thought to ask for vegan alcohol. The chef came out to ask how the food was, gave me the recipe for this delicious onion jam and discussed vegan cooking with me. The coordinator and the head wait staff were again fawning over me like I was a special speciment that needed protection! All in all another memorable night! And I think Ovo is one of my favourites now!

We left Portland with a heavy heart and wanting more…which only means that this love saga will be continued! We love you Portland ❤

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