Product Review: Aardvark Habañero Hot Sauce

I'm The Spicy Vegan. I love spice in everything I eat and drink, including hot chocolate and cocktails. I live for fresh hot peppers but hot sauces have a place in my life as well. Being The Spicy Vegan you would think I would love any and all hot sauces. Au contraire, mon frère! I am actually quite particular about the hot sauces worthy of touching my food. If I ask for hot sauce and somebody hands me Tabasco, I break it over their head. How insulting! Unfortunately, there are more mediocre commercial hot sauces than excellent ones on the market. The search for the perfect hot sauce has been going on for years and I finally, FINALLY, found it in Portland, Oregon. Secret Aardvark Trading Company, you rock my Sock Dreams socks off. 

This magical concoction makes every dish infinitely better. Potatoes? Check. Scrambles? Check. Sandwich? Check. Chili? Check. Bloody Mary? Check. Directly in my mouth? Check. 
I seriously only frequent breakfast places that offer Aardvark otherwise I will likely be thoroughly disappointed with my meal. I've been known to keep Aardvark stashed around town, like at friends' places, my car, my job, my fridge and anywhere else I think I might be. I even took it on vacation with me, which was a bad idea as it exploded in my suitcase. So what's in it?
Here's a list of the ingredients: White wine vinegar, roasted tomatoes, habañero peppers, onion, carrot, sugar (beet), prepared mustard, water, kosher salt, cornstarch, herbs and spices.

It sounds so simple yet it is so, so SO good! Where can you find it, you ask? Well, you can order it directly from Aardvark, you can order it from Food Fight  or if you are fortunate enough to live in Portland, Oregon, you can find it at Food Fight, New Seasons, Whole Foods and even some carts like DC Vegetarian have it available for sale. If you've never had it, I promise you will go "Hot Damn!" upon first taste. It is most definitely a staple in my home, you will never find my fridge devoid of a bottle. If I had to choose 10 things to bring with me on a deserted island, Aardvark would be on that list. Have I mentioned how much I love it? I LOVE it!   

What's YOUR favorite way to enjoy Aardvark

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

I've never been struck by pumpkin fever like everybody else during the fall. I suppose having crappy pumpkin pie as a kid (read: not vegan, all processed) turned me off to all things pumpkin. This year I rediscovered the magic of pumpkin through many different preparations and was intrigued by the concept of making a pumpkin smoothie for breakfast. I drink smoothies 3-4 times a week as my first meal of the day and the nutritional value of pumpkins made this an easy choice to mix up my repertoire. It might seem weird to add salt to a smoothie but it's key in bringing out the rest of the flavors, trust me.

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

1 can refrigerated organic pumpkin
2 frozen bananas
2 cups non-dairy milk
1/2 cup So Delicious vanilla coconut yogurt
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
dash of salt

1. Place all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth. Drink immediately.

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 2 16oz smoothies

Chick Pea Rice Soup

Every once in a great while you find yourself with leftover rice in the fridge but no craving for a stir-fry. What is one to do?! Why create a soup, of course! Most of my recipes are born out of random ingredients laying around in my fridge, like half a can of tomato paste, a handful of fresh herbs, a glass of wine (the sin!) or in this case, leftover cooked rice. I looked around and saw the leftover rice, some cooked chick peas, a small can of tomato sauce and the squeaky wheels started turning in my head. I happened to be in Puerto Rico at the time and had access to my favorite herb on the planet, culantro (known as recao in Puerto Rico). Though different than its Puerto Rican incarnation, culantro is more fragrant that cilantro, with a pungent aroma and taste. I was able to locate some at a Vietnamese market in Portland since some people use it for pho. I assure you the search is worth it. You can substitute cilantro in this recipe if culantro is not available.


Chick Pea Rice Soup

2 tbsp of olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1/2 bulb of garlic, minced
2 celery ribs, diced
1 tsp salt 
4 1/2 cups vegetable stock or water
7 oz can spicy or plain tomato sauce
2 1/2 cups cooked chick peas
1 3/4 cups cooked rice
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
large handful chopped culantro
Fresh ground pepper and sea salt, to taste

1. Warm olive oil in a soup pot. Add onions, celery and salt. Stir and cook until fragrant. Add garlic and cook for an additional two minutes.  Splash 1/2 cup of water or vegetable stock in pot to deglaze vegetables.
2. Add remaining water or vegetable stock and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil. Add chick peas and reduce heat. Simmer until broth is fragrant and flavors are combined.
3. Add rice and corn. Cook for an additional five minutes then add fresh culantro. Turn off heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30-40 minutes
Servings: 4-6 bowls

Seitan Potato Hash

After thirteen years of not eating meat, I have come to realize I am over tofu. Don't get me wrong, I love it as much as the next person but I fell into a rut of cooking everything with tofu, ordering everything with tofu, and basically not expanding outside of my tofu bubble. This past summer I started having issues digesting soy so I cut it out from my diet. The result is better health and a new outlook on my food options. I've never made my own seitan, bought it to make at home or ordered it in dishes while out because good ole reliable tofu was always there instead. With tofu out of my life, seitan has snuck in and become my new best friend. My options for breakfast have definitely been limited by eliminating tofu from my diet. Enter seitan to save the day. This seitan potato hash hit the spot like the millions of tofu scrambles I've made in my day. The options are endless but this is the version I put together this morning.

Seitan Potato Hash

2 tbsp grapeseed oil, divided
1 medium onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 jalapeño, minced
5-7 red potatoes, cubed
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups seitan, cubes or strips
2 tbsp coconut amino acids or soy sauce
fresh ground salt and pepper

1. In a cast iron skillet warm 1tbsp of oil on medium high heat. Add onions and peppers and some fresh ground salt and pepper. Saute for 4-5 minutes.

2. Add potatoes and a 1/4 cup of water. Mix well then cover to create steam. Stir occasionally.  
3. While the potatoes are cooking, heat remaining tbsp of oil in a separate cast iron skillet. Add seitan and quickly saute to brown on all sides. Once browned, splash with coconut amino acids or soy sauce and toss until absorbed. If you don't have two cast iron skillets, you can perform this step before cooking onions and peppers and set aside until needed. 

4. When potatoes appear almost done, add seitan to main skillet and mix well. Cook until potatoes are softened and flavors are combined. Add more salt and pepper as needed. Serve hot. 

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 2

Italian Peasant Soup

I love making extravagant meals as much as the next person but every once in awhile something simple, warm and delicious is all I crave. I created this recipe to be the least amount of work with the most amount of flavor using staples I always keep stocked. I use diced tomatoes with basil and oregano instead of adding my own herbs in order to keep it simple and consistent. You are welcome to used plain diced tomatoes and add your own fresh or dried herbs. This soup comes together really easily and feels warm and comforting after a long day. Serve with a green salad and some crusty bread.

Italian Peasant Soup

2 tbsp olive oil
One medium onion, diced
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 celery rib, diced
1/2 tsp salt
1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes with basil and oregano
1/2 can tomato paste
4 cups vegetable stock
2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup green beans or peas
1/4-1/2 tsp salt & 15 cranks fresh pepper
1 tsp Red pepper flakes

1) Warm olive oil in a large soup pot.
2) Add onions, garlic, celery and salt. Saute until fragrant and translucent.
3) Add tomatoes, tomato paste and vegetable stock. Bring to a light boil.
4) Add potatoes then reduce heat to medium and cook for 20-25 minutes.
5) Add the green beans or peas and simmer until potatoes are tender.
6) Add the rest of the spices according to taste. Serve hot.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 35-40 minutes
Servings: 3-4 bowls

Lentils and Rice

The struggle between preparing a healthy and delicious meal for yourself at home or throwing your hands in the air and going out for food is a challenge most of us face on a regular basis. The latter is often more expensive, time consuming and not as satisfying or nutritious. If you're like me, you prefer eating at home and cooking your own meals as often as possible yet our friend/enemy 'time' doesn't always allow such a union to come together. I created this recipe on a day I was short on time before heading out for the afternoon. From the moment I started pulling out the ingredients to the moment I sat down to eat exactly forty minutes had passed. The dishes, well, that's another story.

Lentils and Rice

4 cups of vegetable stock or water, 2 tbsp reserved
1 1/2 cups brown lentils, sorted and rinsed 
1 bay leaf
1 med onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 celery stick, chopped
1 med carrot, chopped
1 hot pepper (seeds removed), minced
1 can diced tomatoes
a handful of fresh parsley, chopped
1/8 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp cayenne
dash of cinnamon (optional)
splash of lemon (optional)
fresh black pepper and sea salt, to taste
1 1/2 cups of rice, cooked according to package directions

1. Place lentils, vegetable stock or water, minus the two tablespoons, and the bay leaf in a pot and bring to a boil. 
2. While lentils are boiling, chop and prep the rest of your vegetables. 
3. Heat remaining 2 tbsp of vegetable stock in a soup pot. Add onions, carrots and celery and saute until translucent. Add garlic and stir for an additional two minutes. 
4. Add diced tomatoes and the rest of the ingredients, minus the salt and pepper, and bring to a light simmer. 
5. Add lentils to soup pot and simmer until flavors are integrated and the lentils are tender. 
6. Season with salt and pepper and serve over rice. 

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4-6 

**This dish can easily be turned into a soup by simply adding more vegetable stock or water. 

Marinara Sauce

I'm a big believer in making everything from scratch as often as possible. I also believe emergency food can save your day, which is why I always keep jar marinara in my cupboard but I always, ALWAYS prefer to make my own if the time is available. I've been making fresh marinara so much lately I have almost completely lost my taste for anything out of a jar. This recipe is simple, delicious and can be prepared quickly, leaving you time to toss a salad, boil pasta, or prepare anything else for your dinner. By the time all that is ready you will have piping hot homemade marinara awaiting you. This recipe can easily be halved but I prefer making a large pot of it to avoid having to dig into my emergency food stash later in the week.

Marinara Sauce
1/4 cup Italian extra virgin olive oil
1 medium white onion, diced
1/2 bulb of garlic, minced
1/4 cup of red wine
2 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
1 tbsp salt
1/4 cup fresh or 1 tbsp dried basil
1/4-1 tbsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

1. Warm olive oil in a large dutch oven at medium high heat. Add onions and cook until translucent. Add garlic and stir for 2 minutes.
2. Add wine and let cook for 3-5 minutes.
3. Add crushed tomatoes and tomato paste. Bring to a light boil and then simmer.
4. Cook for a minimum of 30-45 minutes. Toward the end of cooking add salt, basil and red pepper flakes, if using.
5. Serve over pasta, polenta, pizza or use as a dipping sauce.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes to 1 hour
Serves 8-10

Mango Pineapple Smoothie

I've always loved sorbet. What's not to love about frozen fruit sweetened with a bit of sugar? It's delicious, it's refreshing and it's relatively guiltless. I honestly didn't think you could improve on this magical combination until So Delicious entered the scene. What could they possibly add, besides booze, to make sorbet better? Coconut water. Oh, coconut water how I love thee! What a brilliant concept!

The coconut water sorbets quickly entered my life and I started finding ways to incorporate them into my daily life. I drink smoothies for breakfast 3-4 times a week so it seemed like the perfect place to start. The first time I sampled this recipe I was walking through the farmers' market moaning my way through breakfast. Wait, did that sound dirty? Either way, here's the super simple recipe!

Mango Pineapple Smoothie

2 bananas
1 cup fresh or frozen mango
1 cup fresh or frozen pineapple
3/4 cup So Delicious mango sorbet
2 cups papaya juice
1 tbsp flax seeds ( optional)

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Drink, moan.

Makes 2 16oz Smoothies.

Chick Peas and Green Peas Pasta

Once upon a time when I was in college I was stuck at my temp job with no food, no money and a killer hangover. I begged my boyfriend at the time to bring me some food and less than half an hour later he showed with this chick peas and peas pasta dish. I swear he saved my life that day plus this creation started my love affair with chick peas. I've been making this dish for over a decade now and it has gone through several changes since the original (olive oil, garlic, onions, chick peas, peas, s & p) was presented to me. It really is one of the easiest and tastiest things you can throw together when in a hurry especially since most of the ingredients are simple staples. This recipe lends itself well to a variety of flavors so feel free to experiment with other vegetables tossed in.

Chick Peas and Green Peas Pasta

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup Earth Balance
1 medium onion, diced
6 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups of cooked chick peas
1 cup frozen green peas
1 3/4 cups of rice milk
1 cup shredded vegan cheese (optional)
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp fresh pepper
8-10 ounces cooked pasta, preferably shells or penne

1. Warm olive oil and Earth Balance in a large saute pan over medium high heat and add onions with a dash of salt. Cook until clear and fragrant. Add garlic and stir to mix well.
2.  Add chick peas, peas, and rice milk. Simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes.
3. Add shredded vegan cheese (if using) and the rest of the ingredients except the pasta. Cook for an additional ten minutes or until all the flavors are combined and sauce is creamy. Toss in pasta and serve with fresh ground black pepper. 

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 bowls

Southern Style Black Eyed Peas

Oh how I love a plate of black eyed peas, brown rice, roasted brussel sprouts and bbq tofu. It is such a comforting combination of flavors and makes me oh so very happy. This is one of my favorite dishes to order at The Bye and Bye in Portland so I decided to create my own version. The picture below has grilled yams instead of tofu, which was a lovely complement to the meal.

Southern Style Black Eyed Peas

2 1/2 cups dried black eyed peas, soaked at least 4 hours
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
1/2 small can tomato paste
1 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp liquid smoke
1 bay leaf
4 cups of water or vegetable stock
1/8 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp thyme
salt & pepper

1. Saute onions, garlic and celery over medium heat in oil.
2. Add jalapeño and continue stirring until vegetables are soft and fragrant.
3. Add a splash of water to deglaze then add the rest of the ingredients except thyme, salt and pepper.
4. Bring contents to a light boil, reduce heat and simmer partially covered for at least one hour, stirring occasionally.
5. Once most of the liquid is absorbed the beans are ready. Season with thyme, salt and pepper, serve over brown rice and enjoy!

Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 1/2 hours
Servings: 4-6

Moroccan Chick Pea and Lentil Soup

Chick Peas and lentils are easily two of my favorite legumes. I love their versatility in soups, pasta dishes, over rice, pureed for dips and in salads plus they lend themselves well to a variety of herbs and spices. Putting these two magical legumes together in a single dish may be the best idea I've had all year. The aromatic spices and tomato base of this soup are a perfect stage for these complementary beans to shine together. This rich dish could easily be served over rice though I found it to be ample and satisfying by itself.

Moroccan Chick Pea and Lentil Soup

3 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 celery rib, diced
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
1 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger, grated
Pinch of saffron thread
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp cumin
2 cups crushed tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 cinnamon sticks
2 bay leaf
1/2 tsp sugar 
1 cup lentils, sorted and rinsed
8 cups of water or vegetable broth
2 cups of chick peas, cooked
1 garlic clove, minced
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
Lemon wedges (optional)

1) In a large soup pot warm olive oil over medium high heat. Add onions and celery and sauté until halfway cooked. Add ginger, jalapeño, saffron, turmeric, cumin and ground cinnamon and sauté until onions are translucent and aromatic.
2) Add tomatoes and tomato paste and let simmer for a few minutes. Add cinnamon sticks, bay leaves and sugar.
3) Add lentils, water or vegetable broth and bring to a light boil.
4) Reduce heat and partially cover. Cook until lentils are al dente, about 30-40 minutes.
5) Add chick peas and garlic clove and simmer until all flavors are developed, about 30 more minutes.
6) Remove cinnamon sticks and bay leaves. Add a generous amount of fresh pepper and adjust salt according to personal taste.
7) Serve with a squeeze of lemon.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Servings: Six hearty bowls

Spicy Black Bean Soup

I'm convinced that there is no wrong way to make a soup. I rarely start out with a clear intention in mind but as I start chopping and picking ingredients out of the fridge my vision starts to come together. I often post my soup recipes so I have a rough guideline to follow the next time I'm craving the main ingredient i.e black beans, lentils, chick peas, etc... yet I rarely follow a recipe exactly as it's more important to me to use up what is available and fresh in my fridge. This latest creation was warming and full flavored, a perfect rainy day soup. I experimented with pureeing it halfway down and then adding whole black beans and also pureeing the whole thing then adding more beans and both were delicious. The consistency will be entirely up to you as I think it works any way you choose.

Spicy Black Bean Soup

3 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 celery rib, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 tsp cumin
1 large jalapeño or serrano pepper, diced
1 4oz can green chilies
2 1/2 cups plus 1 cup of cooked black beans
1/2 small can tomato paste
1 tsp cayenne
1 bay leaf
4 cups of water or vegetable stock
juice of 1/2 lime
handful cilantro, chopped
sea salt and fresh pepper
1 cup frozen corn (optional)

1) Warm olive oil in a large soup pot over medium high heat. Add onions, carrots, celery, garlic and cumin and saute until onions are translucent.
2) Add hot peppers and chilies and stir together for 2 minutes.
3) Add 2 1/2 cups of black beans, tomato paste, cayenne, water or vegetable stock and bay leaf.
4) Bring to a light boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30-45 minutes.
5) Remove bay leaf. Add lime, salt, pepper and cilantro.
6) Puree according to preferred consistency. Add remaining cup of cooked beans and corn (if using) and simmer for another few minutes.
7) Serve with chopped green onions and tortilla chips.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 45 minutes to 1 hour
Servings: 4 hearty bowls

Mushroom Rosemary Fettuccine

 I used to hate mushrooms. It was a vehement hate until one day when I was 21 somebody forced me to try a mushroom rosemary cream sauce. I was instantly hooked, quickly thereafter obsessed and now I can't imagine my life without mushrooms. This recipe is reminiscent of that creamy sauce that seduced me so many years ago. I'm sure there is a way to make this a delicate, silky sauce but I much prefer it potent and full of garlic.

Mushroom Rosemary Fettuccine

2 tbsp of olive oil
2 tbsp earth balance
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups of crimini or white mushrooms
2 cups of soy milk
2 rosemary stalks, finely chopped
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/4 cup of nutritional yeast (optional)
dash of cayenne (optional)
Sea salt & fresh ground pepper

5-6 ounces of fettuccine, cooked according to package directions

1) Warm oil and earth balance in a heavy skillet over medium high heat.
2) Add garlic and toss for 30 seconds.
3) Add mushrooms, stirring constantly until cooked down more than halfway.
4) Add chopped rosemary and a fair amount of salt and fresh pepper to the mushrooms.
5) Add soymilk and reduce heat to medium.
6) Once soymilk is warm, add lemon juice. This will cause the soymilk to curdle and thicken.
7) Stir in the nutritional yeast and cayenne, if using.
8) Once sauce is warmed through and lightly bubbling, add cooked fettuccine. Toss to coat, adding more soymilk if necessary. 
9) Adjust salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately

Prep Time: 10-15 minutes
Cooking Time: 20-30 minutes
Servings: 3-4

Nutritional Yeast Popcorn

The first time I was offered nutritional yeast on popcorn I looked at my friend like he was crazy. What on earth was that weird yellow stuff and why are you putting it on my food?! Upon first taste I swallowed my words and an enormous bucket of popcorn. Ever since I have been obsessed with all things nutritional yeast (a peek through my blog will testify to this) and have been working on perfecting my popcorn recipe. I personally prefer the stove top method to the air popped variety as I prefer a bit of oil to make it richer (read: fatty goodness).

Nutritional Yeast Popcorn

2 tbsp of grapeseed oil
1/2 cup of yellow or white popcorn
a spritz of olive oil spray
1/2 cup of nutritional yeast
1 tsp of sea salt
dash of cayenne (optional) 

Place oil and kernels in a heavy pot with a tight-fighting glass lid on medium-high heat. Using oven mitts, shake pot to coat the kernels with oil. Continue shaking every 20-30 seconds, never letting it rest on the heat for more than 30 seconds.  After all kernels are popped transfer to an extra large bowl. Lightly spritz with olive oil spray and start shaking in the salt and nutritional yeast. Repeat this process as you continue shaking the bowl until all contents are evenly coated. Top off with a dash of cayenne (if using) and give it a final shake. Throw on a movie and enjoy!

Prep time: 10 minutes

Top 10 Lists

It's the end of the year and Top 10 Lists are dominating all publications. I'll play along and create a few of my own.

Top 10 Condiments I Cannot Live Without
Nutritional Yeast          Vegan Mayonnaise    
Soy Sauce            Dijon Mustard        Olive Oil        
Fresh Black Pepper              Earth Balance
Cayenne                Coconut Milk          Miso

Top 10 Things You Will Always Find In My House
Garlic            Onions             Olive Oil
Jasmine Rice       Chick Peas        Tofu
Canned Tomatoes       Black Peppercorns
Hot Peppers    Nutritional Yeast

Top 10 Favorite Soups
Indian Style Lentil      Cuban Black Bean      Miso
 Green Split Pea    Corn Chowder      Tom Yum
        Spicy Chili      Vietnamese Pho

Spicy Tomato Cilantro Soup

So many of my recipes are born out of an abundance of ingredients I have to use before they go bad and/or leftovers that need to be combined to make a new meal. I happened to have an open container of tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, some leftover brown rice and a craving for soup and thus this creation was born. This particular combination was so warming and delicious, I plan to make it all winter long as it was simple, quick and satisfying.

Spicy Tomato Cilantro Soup

3 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion
4 cloves of garlic
2 celery sticks including the leaves
2 carrots
1 large can of crushed tomatoes
1/2 small can of tomato paste
1 1/2 tsp of evaporated cane juice
2 cups of rice milk (or dairy-free milk of choice)
large pinch of paprika
large pinch of cayenne
fresh pepper and sea salt
2 cups of cooked brown rice (optional)
a bunch of chopped cilantro

Warm olive oil in a soup pot and add the onions, garlic, celery and carrots. Saute on medium heat with a bit of salt until fragrant and softened. Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and sugar and cook partially covered for at least 10 minutes or until flavors are combined. Using an immersion blender, puree soup contents until smooth. Add rice milk, lower heat and cook for 5-10 minutes. Add dried spices and rice, if using. Cook until warmed through. Add cilantro and serve.

Servings:  5-6 large bowls
Prep and Cooking Time: 30-45 minutes

Miso Gravy

A savory gravy can pull together a simple meal and transform it into a taste explosion worthy of licking the plate. Whenever I don't feel like cooking, I usually make nutritional yeast tofu and/or mashed potatoes. These simple creations were begging for a savory topping but making gravy can be time consuming and it doesn't seem worth it for a single person meal. Enter this miso gravy. Though I love a gravy with fresh onions and garlic, I decided to create this one with a prominent miso flavor that I can whip up easily with ingredients I always have on hand. Make sure you add the miso after the the gravy is no longer boiling so you don't destroy the nutritional benefits.

Miso Gravy

1/3 cup Earth Balance (or other vegan margarine)
2 tbsp garbanzo bean or spelt flour (or flour of your choice)
2/3 cup plain rice milk (or other non-dairy beverage)
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp soy sauce
2 tbsp white miso (or other light miso)
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/8 tsp fresh pepper
1/8 tsp dried sage
2 tsp arrowroot powder, dissolved in water (optional)

1. Heat Earth Balance in a medium saucepan over medium heat
2. Add flour and stir constantly until fully dissolved
3. Add rice milk and continue stirring until gravy thickens
4. Reduce heat to low and add nutritional yeast, stirring constantly
5. Add miso and rest of ingredients and continue to stir
6. If gravy is not thick enough, add some arrowroot powder and remove from heat
7. Serve immediately

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 2-4

Ranch Dresssing

uOnce upon a time when I lived in Boulder, Colorado, I used to live across the street from the local vegan shop named Three Little Figs, owned by two lovely ladies. I was addicted to their ranch and was sad when not only did I move but they also closed. The owner agreed to give me the recipe and swore me to secrecy. She felt safe that I would be living all the way in Portland and couldn't possibly betray her recipe. Little did she know that someday I'd have a blog. Out of respect for her, however, I will only post the ingredients I used and not actual amounts. I did alter the recipe , naturally, so this is mostly an homage to the original.

Ranch Dressing

Silken tofu
Vegan mayonnaise
Grapeseed oil, or other neutral tasting oil
Lemon juice
Lemon zest
Apple cider vinegar
Red wine vinegar
Garlic granules
Onion granules
Dried dill
Dried parsley

Blend all ingredients together in a food processor. Refrigerate before serving.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Spicy Buffalo Wings

I recently attended a potluck with an 'un-chicken' theme, in anti-honor of National Chicken Month. Everybody made fantastic dishes such as chicken salad, chicken and broccoli bake, chicken and corn chowder, and chicken croquettes, to name a few. The versatility, originality and tastiness of the dishes presented a hell of case for giving up our innocent fowl friends. As The Spicy Vegan, I naturally had to bring a spicy chicken dish. What's better than spicy Buffalo wings? Nothing.

The idea was presented to me by the hostess Janessa, The Epicurious Vegan, and I welcomed the challenge to create one of my favorite dishes from my pre-vegetarian days, one that I missed for its delicious spicy sauce. The first challenge was figuring out what to use as a base. I went to our local Asian Market, Fubonn, and bought VegeUsa dehydrated soy protein nuggets from Taiwan. The trick to using these is getting rid of the cardboard taste. I decided to hydrate mine in vegetable stock instead of water. Next step was creating the Buffalo wing sauce. I didn't measure anything, so you will have to adjust according to personal taste

Buffalo Wing Sauce:
Frank's red hot sauce
earth balance
vegan worcestershire sauce

I did a roughly one to one ratio of hot sauce and earth balance, followed by a healthy dash of worcestershire sauce and a heavy handed sprinkle of cayenne and paprika. I simply put all ingredients in a sauce pan and simmered them together until well incorporated. Next, I tossed my newly dehydrated wings in the sauce and marinated overnight. In the morning, I baked the marinated nuggets at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes. Then I took them out of the oven, tossed them again and baked for another 15 minutes. Once I arrived at the potluck I tossed them again and baked for another 15 minutes. You can repeat this step endlessly as it will only continue to seal in the flavor.  The final step was tossing them one last time but leaving them slightly saucy. Serve with your favorite dressing (I used a homemade ranch-- recipe to follow), carrot and celery sticks and voila! You are now ready to blow some minds.


Strawberry Cleopatra

Back when I was a teenager I used to work in the mall near an Orange Julius. I was completely obsessed with their drinks, particularly the Strawberry Julius. It was always the highlight of my day yet one of the many things I gave up when I turned vegan, as they use milk powder in their blend.
This morning I was out of bananas but really wanted a smoothie. I decided to make a milkshake instead with fresh strawberries and some Temptations Strawberry Ice Cream from Chicago Soy Dairy I had in the freezer. I was weary when I took my first sip yet was more than pleasantly surprised to find that not only was it fantastic but it tasted just like the strawberry Julius drinks from my youth! I was downright giddy the rest of the day. Enjoy!

Strawberry Cleopatra
7 fresh strawberries, tops cut off
1 to 1 1/2 cups of rice milk
1/2 pint of strawberry ice cream

Blend all ingredients together, adjusting the rice milk to your thickness preference. Serve immediately.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

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