Relax, Isa Does It

Muffin Pan Mini Omelets

I’ll been eating well lately. Really well. Yup, I’ve been living the good life trying out recipes from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s latest cookbook, Isa Does It. Everything I’ve made so far has been either super easy or easy enough and delectable.

Starting with the first meal of the day, Muffin Pan Mini Omelets (page 247), served with giant strawberries and homestyle potatoes. Aren’t those the cutest little tofu omelets?

It’s certainly a nice change from always having tofu scrambles. And they’re fun to make too, you can watch them rise a bit while they’re baking, then deflate towards the end of the cooking time.

Lentil-Quinoa Stew

I’m still learning to cook lentils and quinoa but I’ve come a long ways from having been at best indifferent to lentils for years and unsure how to pronounce quinoa (say “KEEN-wah”). Now look at me, I’m making Lentil-Quinoa Stew with Lots of Kale (page 148).

Pleasantly surprised at how much flavor is packed into this stew and with such simple ingredients, I’ve since made it several times even without kale and serving it with other veggies instead.

Smoky Incan Stew

More quinoa, this time with beans in Smoky Incan Stew (page 165). Since the quinoa soaked up quite a bit of the broth, I added the leftover tomato juice as mentioned in the notes. I love these helpful little tips and tidbits included in some of the recipes.

To add my own note: I didn’t have red quinoa called for in the recipe but I did have red lentils and swap around the colors, it’s still a bright and flavorful stew.

Cheddary Broccoli Soup

Cheddary Broccoli Soup (page 53), yes, another soup. This was back when I was having jaw pain so there was a lot of soups and stews going on. Having never tried broccoli cheddar soup before, I didn’t expect it to be so rich and without any sort of processed vegan cheese. Not that I have anything against store-bought cheese but cheddar cheesy taste from real ingredients, that’s a winner.

Pesto-Cauliflower Pasta

Finally off of soups, my jaw has healed and I’m back to my munching and crunching ways. Since fresh basil started showing up at the farmer’s market, what’s better than pesto? Bestest Oil-Free Pesto (page 128) for Pesto-Cauliflower Pasta with Breaded Tofu (page 126).

No oil necessary in this pesto, it’s replaced with vegetable broth. But alas, I only had Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base, not wanting my pesto to taste chicken-y, I just used plain water and it’s totally fine. I usually prefer to bake my tofu but the skillet pan method wasn’t too messy and didn’t take too long. Besides, the nicely browned breading was well worth the effort.

There’s so many more recipes to try now that I can chew food again. From the few I’ve made so far, I wouldn’t be surprised if Isa Does It becomes the go-to vegan cookbook for generations to come.

Still on the fence? Download the free e-book from Amazon, Breville presents Make It Vegan: Recipes from the Yiddish-speaking, Nebraska-living, post-punk vegan, Isa Chandra Moskowitz. Most of the 10 recipes in it are from Isa Does It and includes the breaded tofu pictured above. You don’t even need a actual Kindle, just download the Kindle app for your mobile device or computer. The directions are right there on the product page.

Related Posts
Heavenly Cheesecake From Vegan Pie in the Sky
Chickpea Cutlets From Veganomicon
2nd Avenue Vegetable Korma From Appetite for Reduction

This post contains Amazon links, I get a few coins tossed my way if you click on any of the links and make a purchase of anything.

Spring Garlic Has Sprung

Spring Garlic

For as long as I’ve been a herbivore (and it’s been a long time), I’m still discovering vegetables that are new to me. The variety and variations in the plant kingdom is simply astounding. Oh sure, I have my favorites that I eat on a regular basis, but I also like to try out new vegetables whenever I stumble across them at the farmer’s market.

My newest such “discovery” is spring garlic also known as green garlic, which is just younger garlic with the stalk still attached. It looks a bit like an overgrown scallion. Although the ones pictured above seem to be slightly older, I had other spring garlic with more slender bulbs. You can eat the whole thing, it has a milder, sweeter garlic taste.

Stir-fried Kale with Spring Garlic

To get the full flavor of the spring garlic, I just go with a simple and quick stir-fry of kale with the spring garlic so that the freshness of the ingredients shines through. Other green vegetables would work too. You can also use it in recipes that call for regular garlic. It’s fun to experiment in different dishes but they have a short season. Get them while you can.

Surviving on Soft Foods

Blueberry Banana Smoothie

I feel like such a fool. In my defense, I had no reason to suspect anything was wrong. Little did I know I was heading down the road to overexerting my jaw. It had all the makings of a perfect storm – just back from a teeth cleaning with an unfamiliar substitute dental hygienist, a tendency to chew on one side of my mouth, and munching away on chewy and hard things like tortilla wraps and nuts.

To give my jaw a break and a chance to heal, I’ve been living a soft foods diet. You would not believe how long it took me to come to this realization (hence the feeling like a fool part).

I started with the usual suspects: mashed potatoes, hummus, yogurt and any number of smoothies from Blueberry Banana to Oatmeal-Carrot Cookie.


It’s also been soups galore around here, easy to make and comforting to eat bowls of jook (Chinese rice porridge). I just make sure to cut into teeny tiny pieces whatever extras going into the jook. And the immersion blender has been my best friend for smooth blended soups like Beet Soup and Chipotle Cauliflower Corn Chowder.

Thai Lime Rice and Punjap Eggplant

It’s times like this when it’s handy to have things like Tasty Bite Punjap Eggplant sitting around the pantry. Roasted eggplant in a tomato and onion sauce that’s so soft it’s practically a sauce, served with quick cook steel cut oatmeal instead of rice. And to get some greens in, saag spinach.

Trader Joe's Thai Vegetable Gyoza

Instead of pan frying Trader Joe’s frozen Thai Vegetable Gyoza, I dropped them into boiling water for what amounts to very large wontons. Cook on medium to low heat for about 8 minutes or so, and eaten with a dipping sauce of ketchup mixed with a little soy sauce and sriracha.

Vegan Apricot Almond Scone

Luckily, I can still enjoy Sweet Aha! scones and cupcakes since they’re so fluffy and moist. Although I had to be extra careful eating the almond and apricot parts of the above scone.

My jaw is finally getting a little better, albeit at glacial speed. The hard part is not prematurely jumping back into eating everything and re-injuring myself. It’s probably going to be awhile yet before it’s totally back to normal. Any other ideas on what to eat?

Vegan “Salisbury Steak” Asian Style

Vegan "Salisbury Steak" Asian Style

A recipe transformation hit the kitchen today and made a bit of a mess. Instead of neatly dumping the ingredients for an Asian Lentil Loaf into a pan and be done with it, patties were formed to become Asian Salisbury Steak with ramen noodles no less.

I gotta say despite the extra time and cleanup, the transformation was for the better. A crisp patty instead of a limp slice of lentil loaf is a plus any day in my book. Of course since it’s baked, it’s only crisp when it’s first out of the oven. And who knew ramen is so good with gravy on it?

Vegan “Salisbury Steak” Asian Style
Makes about 10 patties

4 Chinese dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked until soft, then chopped
1 medium leek, white and some of the green part, chopped
2 cups cooked and seasoned lentils
2 handfuls panko breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
Sea salt and pepper to taste
A sprig of cilantro, chopped (optional garnish)

1 cup vegetable broth
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, mash the lentils. Add in the rest of the ingredients and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.

Scoop out a 1/4 cup of the mixture and shape into a patty on a oiled baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, gently flip over and bake another 15 minutes.

While the patties are baking, make the gravy. Heat the broth with the soy sauce and sugar. Combine the cornstarch with a little bit of cold water and mix until smooth. When the broth comes to a boil, slowly add the cornstarch mixture and stir to desired thickness.

Serve the patties with ramen noodles and top with the gravy and cilantro if using.

One Handsome Owl

Vegan Handsome Owl Sandwich

Ah, the joys of a road trip on spring break – the open road, the sun on your face, the wind rushing by, the challenge of finding something vegan to eat. For me, it’s that long stretch between San Jose and the Central Coast where eating options are bleak.

Any snacks that I actually remember to bring with me have long been eaten. Sure there’s always fast food chains or unknown restaurants where vegan inquiries are met with blank stares and the sound of crickets.

Then an Ike’s Place opened in Salinas of all places. Although Google maps had me driving the long way around to get there. Maybe it thought I should do a little sightseeing before arriving at Ike’s. It’s actually located not that far off of the 101 freeway.

Typical Ike’s, there’s something for everyone with separate sections of meat, vegetarian and vegan sandwiches made by super friendly folks. And the wait wasn’t too bad either.

I previously tried the Meatless Mike and the Vegan Backstabber at their Redwood Shores location. This time I went with a Vegan Handsome Owl – teriyaki, vegan breaded chicken, vegan cheese and wasabi mayo on dutch-crunch bread.

Delicious, a bit messy to eat, but so nice to be able to enjoy a good vegan meal at a pit stop.

Woo-hoo, Soup’s On!

Cream of Mushroom Soup

Here I am, once again reviewing the newest 30 minute vegan cookbook from serial author Mark Reinfeld, Soup’s On! Like my previous review in this series, I’m going with recipes I’ve never tried before.

First up is the Cream of Mushroom Soup (page 127), which I’ve only ever had the canned kind. Homemade is super easy to make and much more mushroomy. Most of the recipes include a list of possible variations, it’s very handy to customize to your own taste preferences.

I did quite a few: subbing out different kinds of mushrooms; sautéed the garlic and onion in oil; used coconut milk instead of soy creamer (that last one wasn’t actually an official variation but I figured what the hay).

I also made the Vegan Crème Fraîche (page 195) to go on top. Never tried regular crème fraîche before, so I didn’t have anything to compare. While it tasted fine and added a richness, I could do without it. Although the author likes to suggest it as a topping for a number of recipes, I didn’t think the soup needs it.

Fire-Roasted Tomato Soup

I didn’t plan on making the Creamy Fire-Roasted Tomato Soup (page 125). Much too lazy to go to the store, I just happened to have all the ingredients on hand for this particular recipe (don’t you just love it when that happens? And with the recipe variations, the likelihood of that happening is greatly increased). And just like that, another canned soup bites the dust in favor of making it myself.

Mole Soup with Veggies

Holy Mole Soup with Veggies (page 145), any soup that’s got chocolate chips in it is a soup with my name on it. So much flavor. But it felt like it needed a little something to help soak up all that flavor, so I served it with rice and roasted tofu.

Happy Pho Brown Rice Noodles

I got a package of Happy Pho brown rice noodles that I’ve been itching to try after gobbling down Strawberry Spring Rolls using their brown rice spring roll wrappers. Saving the spice packet that came in the box for another day, I made the Vietnamese Pho Real Bowl (page 74).

I had to adjust the cooking time as the noodles only took 1 minute instead of the 7 minutes in the recipe. But I love the star anise in the broth and I’ve since made it numerous times throwing in whatever noodles and veggies I had available.

Vietnamese Pho Bowl

That’s the thing about this cookbook, the recipes really are endlessly adaptable and pretty easy too. I didn’t try any of the raw or dessert soups as I’m waiting for Spring and Summer fruit and veggies to hit the local farmer’s market to dive into those recipes. And then, soup’s on.

Vietnamese Pho Real Bowl
Serves 6 to 8

6 cups vegetable stock or water
3 tablespoons wheat-free tamari or other soy sauce
3 whole star anise
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 cup thinly sliced shallot
1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
2 teaspoons seeded and diced hot chile pepper, or a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms
3/4 cup thinly sliced carrot
1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
1 tablespoon mirin (optional)
8 ounces beef- or chicken-style seitan, with marinade
3 ounces uncooked thin rice noodles
1 cup thinly sliced napa cabbage
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

1. Place the vegetable stock in a 3-quart pot over medium-high heat. Add all the remaining ingredients, except the rice noodles, cabbage, lime juice, green onion, and cilantro. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Add the rice noodles and cabbage and cook for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the lime juice, green onion, and cilantro and stir well. Remove the star anise and cinnamon stick before serving.

- For a gluten-free version, replace the seitan with cubed and roasted tofu.
- Add 1 cup of small broccoli florets, sugar snap peas, or snow peas.
- Add 2 tablespoons of chiffonaded Thai basil instead of, or in addition to, the cilantro.
- Add 2 tablespoons of miso paste and stir until dissolved just before serving.

From the book The 30 Minute Vegan Soup’s On by Mark Reinfeld. Excerpted by arrangement with Da Capo Lifelong, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright (c) 2013.

Disclosure: I received the book free of charge from the publisher to review. The opinions and experience with the book expressed herein are my own. There was no pay to say.

This post also contains Amazon links, I get a few coins tossed my way if you click on any of the links and make a purchase of anything.

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Happy Pi Pie Day

Mini Raw Mixed Berries Cheesecake

Seeing as I’m just as bad in math as I am in baking, the only way to really celebrate Pi Day (3/14) is to make the easiest kind of pie, no-bake Mini Raw Mixed Berries Cheesecake.

Chocolate Galaxy Banana Cheesecake

Deliciously easy as well is the Chocolate Galaxy Banana Cheesecake from Vegan Pie in the Sky and that one is baked. And yes, I like to make my pies mini. It’s sorta like built-in portion control.

Patxi's Chicago Pizza Palo Alto Review

Prefer something more savory and don’t want to cook? Patxi’s Chicago Pizza got you covered with a vegan deep dish pie with a whole wheat crust, fresh spinach, garlic, red onion and Daiya cheese.

California Pizza Kitchen Review

Or California Pizza Kitchen. The pizza I usually ordered used to be called Vegetarian with Japanese Eggplant, now it’s named California Veggie. But it’s basically the same – baby broccoli, eggplant, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, corn, and red onion. Get it with no cheese on their crispy thin crust.

Any way you slice it, this is my kind of math. Happy Pi Day!

This post contains an Amazon link, I get a few coins tossed my way if you click on the link and make a purchase of anything.

DIY Vegan Pressed Sushi

Vegan Pressed Sushi

Tired of eating the same ol’ cucumber sushi roll? or avocado roll? or some other vegetable roll that’s equally as pedestrian? Me too.

As a remedy, I decided to make pressed sushi also known as oshizushi, where rice is pressed into a rectangular shape using a wooden mold. But I didn’t have a wooden mold. Looking around the kitchen for a diy hack, I spied the tofu press. Hey, that’s a box shape and it’ll do the pressing for me to boot.

Since it’s diy, I went with some of my all-time favorite ingredients: roasted trumpet mushrooms and carrots, shiitake mushroom namul, spicy yuba strips from Hodo (the same people that make the tofu for Chipotle’s sofritas), and massaged kale which strangely enough kinda looks like nori seaweed. You can see it there on the top.

Vegan Pressed Sushi

Pressed sushi seems much easier to make than sushi rolls. After all, it’s just packing ingredients into a box. The challenge is in the layering since you go from the top down. One layer ended up sliding around as it only had carrots and kale, nothing to really anchor it down like rice.

Lesson learned. While the layer fillings can be whatever your stomach desires, the rice is what holds it all together.

Vegan Pressed Sushi

Make a batch of sushi rice
Assemble any number of your favorite fillings, candidates include:
Roasted vegetables such as trumpet mushrooms, eggplant, carrots, squash
Raw vegetables such as cucumber, carrots
Shiitake mushroom namul
Yuba strips or baked tofu strips
Massaged kale or cooked spinach
Nori seaweed sheets

Cut the ingredients to fit into the mold.

Line the tofu press with plastic wrap so that it hangs over the sides. Decoratively arrange alternating strips of whatever you want to be on the top at the bottom of the mold. Dip your fingers into a little bowl of water so the sushi rice doesn’t stick to you and spread a thin layer of rice over the strips. Be careful not to mess up the arrangement.

Next, lay in a piece of nori seaweed cut to size. Continue layering various ingredients in between the rice and nori layers. Pressing down gently as you go along. End with a nori sheet as that will become the bottom of the finished pressed sushi.

Put the top on the tofu press and press for about 5 minutes or so. Apparently there’s a newer version of the tofu press with a lighter tension spring. If you have one of those, you could probably press it a bit longer.

After pressing, remove from the press, use the plastic wrap to gently coax the sushi out. Slice using a sharp knife and a wet cloth. Wipe the knife with the cloth before each slice so it doesn’t stick. Arrange on a plate to serve.

This post contains Amazon links, I get a few coins tossed my way if you click on any of the links and make a purchase of anything.

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