rants & recipes

Archive for November, 2009

Cashew Ricotta Lasagna

Posted by trktos on 28-November-2009

Ok, I’ve had my eye on this lasagna recipe for a while. I wanted to make it for Vegan MoFo, but like a lot of recipes, I never got around to it during October but I finally made it yesterday.

I should note that imprecise recipes annoy me just a little and I’d usually pass up on a recipe that calls for “2-3 jars of sauce” – did you use 2 or 3? what size?? – but check out that original picture – it looked way too tasty to pass up. So I compared the ingredients with a lasagna recipe I’ve made a few times, and came up with a game plan concerning what tomato products I was going to use.

One thing I was really suspicious about, though, in the original recipe, was the pan size. 11 x 7 pan for all that food? You’ve got to be kidding me. I’m no great judge of volume, but, but – that’s smaller than a sheet of paper?! I suspected there was no way all that food would even fit in my standard 9 x 13 pan. And I was right. I purchased a 10 x 14 deep dish pan – sadly, plentiful this time of year for turkeys and roasts – and even though I didn’t use quite all the ingredients compared to the original, the new pan was full to the brim.

So, here’s what I used. Please see notes, below, for future improvements.

Ingredients, cashew ricotta:

  • 3/4 cup cashews
  • 1 14oz tub extra-firm tofu
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • ~ 1/2 tsp soy sauce

Instructions, cashew ricotta:

  1. Soak cashews (I used raw, unsalted cashews but roasted, unsalted would probably be good, too) – for an hour or two in cold water and drain. (I added this step because my food processor has problems and I was hoping it would do better with softer nuts).
  2. Blend ingredients in food processor, until smooth.
  3. Set aside.

Ingredients, other cheesey filling:

  • 1/2 pound carrots, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ~ 2 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 8-oz container vegan cream cheese
  • approx. 1/3 cup diced, reconstituted dried mushrooms and the approx. 1/2 cup water from reconstituting them (in place of vegetable broth, in original)
  • 1 14-oz container extra-firm tofu
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg (argh, I forgot this. Will add next time!)

Instructions, other cheesey filling:

  1. Saute carrots and garlic in some olive oil for about 5 minutes or until tender. Add parsley, mushrooms and “mushroom-recon” water.
  2. Add remaining ingredients, crumbling tofu.
  3. Cook until cream cheese melts.
  4. Set aside.

Other Ingredients:

  • 8 oz spinach
  • 12-14 lasagna noodles
  • 1 25-oz jar pasta sauce (I used Roasted Garlic)
  • 1 15-oz diced tomatoes (I used Fired Roasted tomatoes)
  • 1 15-oz can tomato sauce
  • optional – vegan shredded cheese to top

Other Instructions:

  1. Wilt spinach in microwave or on stove-top. Set aside.
  2. Combine all tomato ingredients. Set aside.
  3. Cook lasagna noodle until nearly done, remembering they will cook more in the oven. Rinse in cold water. Set aside.

Assembly Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees (at some point during noodle-boiling stage).
  2. Spoon a small amount of tomato sauce into the bottom of a 10 x 14 inch (4 qt) casserole dish, to keep first layer of noodles from sticking.
  3. Start layering with noodles.
  4. Make sure each layer gets one of the cheeses and tomato sauce. I only added spinach to two layers. Top with noodles and repeat.
  5. End with noodles and pasta sauce and/or vegan shredded cheese, if using. (I used about half of a block of FYH mozaralla but I could have used more. I even tossed the shredded cheese with a little oil, but it did NOT melt, at all. Big disappointment. Oven must’ve needed to be hotter. It melts on pizza but that’s baked at 450 degrees!)
  6. Bake at 375 degrees for about 1 hour, 1 hour 20 minutes. (Another draw back of a recipe calling for impossible amount of food to fit in a small pan – cooking times are likely to be off!)

Notes for next time:

  • I could have used a little more veggies. I’ll try to use the 16 ounces of spinace the recipe called for.
  • I’ll make up my half-pound of carrots with onions, carrots and fresh mushrooms. (Not half-pound, mind you. But about 2 cups’ worth?)
  • This could have been a little less-soupy. Next time, I will squeeze “other cheesey” tofu in a cheese cloth.
  • I will use petite diced tomatoes next time, and drain them. I will probably use 2 jars of pasta sauce and 1 can of tomato sauce, plus the drained tomatoes, because I could have used a little more sauce – yes, while simultaneously needing to be less soupy. This is not a contradiction! =)
  • I will plan to cook at 350, covered, for about an hour. Maybe uncovered, 375, for another 30 minutes (checking frequently.)
  • I might also try 2 recipes of cashew ricotta and leave out the other cheesey tofu mixture. (Still using spinach and veggies, of course.)
  • If I want *melted* cheese on top next time, I’ll either go pick up some Daiya from Pangea or melt the FYH on the darn stovetop first, and pour on during last 15 minutes or so of baking.

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Sheese and Vegan Cheddar Bay Biscuits

Posted by trktos on 23-November-2009

I was a bit surprised, a couple of days ago, to see a few flavors of Sheese at my local Whole Foods. Although I’m pretty much over dairy cheese, I decided to buy a block since we’d never tried it and it’s nice to “support” stores’ carrying of vegan products.

So I picked out the medium cheddar. It was $6.49 / 8 ounces. Quite pricy, but cheaper than the $9+ I seen it priced at previously.


(And yes, it does re-seal fairly well. The label was a little worse-for-wear, here, from already being opened.)

I’d read reviews of Sheese a few years ago, about how great it was – good enough, in fact, to have, sliced, with crackers, wine and cheese, etc. So I was quite surprised to taste this only to find it tasted AWFUL. It started out with a rather sharp, Cheddar flavor but ended with some weird flowery, vanilla, almost sweet after-taste. I was shocked.

So, then the question became – what the heck do I do with this stuff? And the hope was that, once melted, it may be edible. Thanks to maryam for suggesting biscuits (and confirming that, yes, this was not very good raw). I was willing to waste a little flour on something that might have to be tossed.

Being a little perturbed from seeing the Facebook fan page for Cheddar Biscuits from Red Boiled-Alive-Lobster, I decided I’d give a copy-cat recipe a try.

Shredded Sheese:

Compared to Follow Your Heart, Sheese is very hard, very dry and almost difficult to shred. It was a bit crumbly.

However, in these biscuits, it was great! No hint of that funny after-taste, not even after the biscuits had cooled off some (I fully expected the after-taste to return.) My biscuits spread a little more than I would have liked. But that’s ok, I have enough Sheese to try another recipe or adjust this one!

Recipe Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups Bisquick (300 grams – and yes, it really is vegan. Not even any questionable ‘mono – and diglycerides’)
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp nutritional yeast (optional)
  • 1 tbsp Better than Milk powder
  • 1 heaping cup of Medium Cheddar Sheese, shredded
  • 2 tbsp Earth Balance, melted
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp parsley flakes
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup Earth Balance, melted


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Mix together 1st 4 dry ingredients.
  3. Fold in cheese.
  4. In another bowl, combine last 3 ingredients to brush over biscuits.
  5. Add 2 tbsp melted Earth Balance and water to Bisquick mix. Stir until well combined.
  6. Drop about 1/4 cup’s worth per biscuit onto a cookie sheet. I made 10 biscuits.
  7. Brush biscuits with Earth Balance/garlic/parsley mix.
  8. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown on top.

Posted in 0: Recipes, 1: Rants, biscuits, bread, cheddar, dairy subs, food review, products, services | Comments Off on Sheese and Vegan Cheddar Bay Biscuits

Camping Sausage

Posted by trktos on 21-November-2009

I revisited my earlier flavorless sausage and the outcome was much better. I made these for a recent camping trip and they kept quite well, for 3 days, in our cooler (of course, it was also pretty chilly outside, too, so that helped).

I didn’t get any photos but seitan sausages all look pretty similar.


  • 1 box vital wheat gluten (6.5 ounces)
  • 6 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground fennel
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground sage
  • 1/4 tsp dry mustard
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 2 tbsp A1 sauce
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 9 tbsp marmite water
  • 12 tbsp water


  • Combine ingredients. Form into 7-8 log shaped pieces.
  • Wrap each piece in aluminum foil.
  • Steam, in a pressure cooker, for 15 minutes (after pressure is achieved). Slow cool/release pressure.


  • Next time, I’ll be after a little more flavor. Maybe more marmite or bouillon. Some more spice and they’d also make a good pepperoni.
  • I’d also like to try baking these as their texture is fairly soft when warm but good/firm when cold.

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Birthday Food

Posted by trktos on 21-November-2009

Yesterday was Evin’s birthday. We’re pretty sure. Although it could be today. Officially, it’s today … anyway, this gives us an excuse to celebrate over two days. Evin’s not terribly crazy about cake but I think everyone should have a birthday cake. Especially vegans! =) So I try to find something “different” each year that he may be a little interested in.

This cake, I intended to make last year. Bryanna Clark Grogan had posted a recipe for Parsnip Lemon Curd and I wanted to use that as a filling. So I bought a bunch of parsnips and was all set to make the filling. As I started to work with the parsnips, I thought “these don’t smell like parsnips” … turns out, they were parsley roots! Luckily, I realized before making the filling and I changed plans and made something else.

So this year, I got parsnips. From Whole Foods, where everything is properly labeled. And I made Bryanna’s Lemon Curd. It turned out ok. One problem is my food processor sucks. It refused to get this as smooth as you can see in Bryanna’s recipe. I could also tell / taste the parsnips, albeit slightly, in the final product. Still, very lemony and would have been much better if my food processor could manage “smoothness”.

I had intended to use the lemon filling in a vanilla cake with lemon buttercream frosting. But at the last minute, I couldn’t find a fool-proof vanilla cake recipe – and when I say “couldn’t find”, I mean “online, without having to get up and go to the bookshelf” … so I decided to use Bryanna’s Lemon Genoise Cake. I’ve make this cake before and I forget that I think that 9″ round pans are a tad too big for it. Hopefully, by writing about it, I will remember to procure some 8″ pans before I make this again.

I decided I’d make vanilla frosting and would try a cooked flour frosting, since neither of us are crazy about sickeningly sweet frosting. This recipe is all over the place but I used this page for the basics. I chose this recipe because it called for powdered sugar. Here’s what I used:

Cooked Vanilla Frosting


  • 1 1/2 cups soy milk (360 grams)
  • 6 tbsp cake flour (45 g)
  • 3/4 cup Earth Balance (168 g)
  • 3/4 cup shortening (155 g)
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar (180 g)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla


  1. Combine ‘milk and flour in a sauce pan. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, making sure to get edges of pan. Cook until mixture resembles thick pudding. If you don’t whisk constantly, you will have clumps. I frequently lifted and slanted the pot to check on the bottom of the sauce.
  2. Beat cooked mixture with electric mixer until cool.
  3. With mixer in a separate bowl, cream Earth Balance, shortening and vanilla.
  4. Mix in sugar and some cooked mix, as needed, for moisture.
  5. Beat in remaining flour mix and whip for at least 4 minutes.
  6. Probably best to refrigerate before using.

Frosted Cake:

We have one box of candles, Evin picked out pink ones for me years ago, so now he gets a pink candle, too!



We also had what Evin jokingly referred to as man-food for dinner, meat and potatoes! Seitan riblets, that for some reason, had a little more sauce than usual this time. Possibly because I didn’t cut them as distinctly into pieces as usual, maybe less “edge” to soak up sauce? They were really tasty:

With potatoes and attempted-to-broil Brussels sprouts per this recipe (2nd recipe). These did NOT broil or even change at all in 7 minutes but nearly burned in 7 more minutes. They had to finish cooking in the microwave. Still yummy, though.


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Finally, Soup!

Posted by trktos on 6-November-2009

I’ve been trying to make some soup for a while, but have neglected to get things started early enough. Which is to say, before Evin gets home and objects to soup. Finally, last night, I managed to get a jump on things … and just in time, too, because I had some veggies that just needed to be used up and no real ideas for anything else to do with them.

Cabbage Amaranth Soup

  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 parsnip, peeled and chopped
  • 3 potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 head cauliflower, chopped
  • 1/2 head green cabbage, sliced into thin shreds
  • ~ 10 sun-dried tomato halves, minced
  • 3/4 cup amaranth
  • seasoning, maybe about 1/2 tsp each of rosemary, thyme; 1/4 tsp each of ground savory, ground sage, caraway seeds; 2 bay leaves, salt and pepper to taste
  • ~ 1 tbsp Better Than Chicken bouillon
  • 1 bouillon cube
  • ~ 2 tsp marmite
  • ~ 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • dash soy sauce

Hold out cabbage and cauliflower. Almost cover remaining ingredients with water. Bring to a boil, simmer for about 10-15 minutes(?). Add cabbage and cauliflower and cook until done.

Anyway, a hearty, satisfying soup but could have used a tad more flavor. It would be good with some spicy sausage. Next time.


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