Cajun Style Dinner


Creole vs. Cajun cooking.
Most natives will jump at the chance to tell you the vast differences in style. In fact, most Cajun’s get offended when you don’t know the difference.
Both styles tend to be heavy in flavor, and rich at soul. Which goes along with the city’s motto, “Laissez les bon temps rouler” or “Let the good times roll”. But getting technical, what is the difference?

When the Spaniards governed New Orleans they became known to Europe as Creoles. Today Creole style cooking has the influence of French, Spanish, and African cuisine. Cajuns are descendants of the French Acadians as they learned to live in the south Louisiana swamps. It is said the Creoles tend to use more tomatoes, butter and cream. Cajuns tend to use more spices and animal (pork) fat.
After flipping thru a few recipes, I decided to make a Cajun influenced meal….. Minus the pork fat of course!

For the protein of the meal, I used tempeh, marinaded and baked it, then patted it in Cajun spices and lightly grilled the triangles. Garlicky greens are an essential for me with any southern style food. For the rice, I used white basmati, seasoned with Lemon zest, black pepper, and fresh parsley. As a bonus, and to help with the spice factor of the Cajun tempeh, I made a naturally sweetened corn relish.

Here’s the corn relish recipe. Had I have used red bell peppers, instead of gold, the color would have been a bit more vibrant. I jut can’t help but love the taste of sweet golden peppers!

For the relish:

3 cups corn, fresh, or frozen, then thawed
2 Tablespoons tomato juice
1 cup diced yellow onion
1 Tablespoon of olive oil
1 cup diced red bell pepper, or gold:)
1 teaspoon sea salt
pinch of cayenne, or more

Combine 2 cups of the corn, with the tomato juice in food processor. You may want to add a tiny bit of water to help smooth it out.

in a medium sauce pan, heat the olive oil, and add the onion and bell pepper. When tender turn flame down to medium heat. Stir in the pureed corn mixture. Allow to simmer for a minute, then add the whole corn kernals, along with spices.
Garnish with some sliced green onion.
Serve warm!

I did find this cool blog about where vegans can eat in NOLA. Just in case anyone was planning a trip:)
And below is a picture of Sweet Mama Janisse, owner and chef at Bless My Soul, a veggie-friendly creole style restaurant in Eureka, Ca. She specializes in delicious sauces, all mostly vegan friendly. And her vegan hush puppies are delectable.


Holiday Cranberry Sauce


What is a more grown-up way to get that sweet, tart, cranberry fix that goes along with your holiday meal?
Now I’m not trying to knock down anyone’s favorite canned cranberry mold, but how about a homemade orange ginger cranberry sauce, with crunchy, toasted pecans! Made with using fresh, yes fresh cranberries! This recipe is so much fun, and you and everyone that surrounds it will be amazed!
And you can feel like a healthy grown-up too!

This recipe is delicious served warm. You can pre make this in advance, if you feel overwhelmed with all the cooking on Thanksgiving. Just make sure you stir in the pecans minutes before serving so they hold a slight crunch. If you want to lower the glycemic level, agave nectar works as a great substitute for the sugar.
This recipe also allowed me to use my microplane, for grating that hard ginger. A microplane is a super sharp zester, you not only use for your citrus, but coconut, whole cloves and nutmeg as well! What better season than fall to go out and get one! They are heavy duty durable, and last a long time! Zesting has never been easier!


If you can find a juicing orange, you will have less of a hard time trying to get the fresh juice out of the orange. And as a bonus, they usually don’t have any seeds!   Fresh cranberries should be at any grocery store this time of year. If you can’t find em’ get your butt to the farmers markets! I know you can definitely find them there!  Did I forget to mention all the Vitamin C this recipe has to offer?!

1/2 cup organic cane sugar, granulated

1 orange

1 tea. grated fresh ginger

4 cups of cranberries, fresh

1/2 cup pecans, toasted

***To toast your pecans, preheat your stove to 350 degrees. Spread you pecans evenly onto a cookie sheet. Place in oven and allow 4-5 minutes to toast. Be careful not to let them burn! Allow to cool, and chop till small (chocolate chip size) pieces.

Pick over your fresh cranberries and make sure non are discolored or shriveled.  I’ve heard that rip cranberries ‘bounce’ but I am not urging you to make a mess in the kitchen! If they are slightly firm and have a reddish hue, your good to go!
Grate the orange peel and ginger and place in a medium saucepan along with the sugar. Add the juice from the orange. Over medium heat, cook until sugar is dissolved. Add cranberries and reduce temperature to low, and cover. Cook for about 5 minutes until you hear them pop! Cool sauce till warm, and add those chopped Pecans!


Save some of the orange zest and pecans to garnish!
I don’t have a picture of my finished project this year yet, but I wanted to share this before the holiday! Have a safe and fun weekend everyone!

Rice Paper Lunch Fun

Recently, I’ve been using rice paper wrappers to make various versions of spring rolls.
If you haven’t worked with rice paper before, HAVE NO FEAR! When treated gently, and with care, they can be your new best friend. Not to mention they are unbelievably cheap! You can buy a package of rice paper wrappers for under $2 at a local Asian market. Rice paper is usually gluten free, only slightly cooked, and adds an edge to just your basic tortilla.
Here’s how to use em’

Fill a large shallow bowl, with filtered water. Submerge a rice paper sheet in the water, follow with another. Meanwhile, make sure you have a clean, dry, table to roll you wraps. After about 3-4 min. take one out, allowing to drip off excess water, and place on prep table. Follow with the other paper, laying vertically below, and covering the bottom 2 inches of the first paper wrap. Allow another minute to dry
Try to assemble your fillings in a horizontal line, across the bottom rice paper. Once you’ve stacked them, pull the bottom part of the rice paper over the fillings and start rolling upward, tucking and GENTLY securing to a hold. Slice in half, and serve.

Fillings can range from any favorite cold filling, a salad you bought at the market, leftover veggies with your favorite salad dressing. Go for color! They look so pretty when sliced and served!

My favorite fresh veggie filling consists of shredded purple cabbage, julienned yellow bell peppers, alfalfa sprouts, sliced avocado, fresh chopped cilantro and mint, with a sprinkle of sesame seeds. For a dipping sauce try nama shoyu with some thinly sliced scallions.

In the mood for something more hearty? How about some slices of Tofurky, a spread of tofutti cream cheese, fresh chives, sliced avocado, spring mix, and a dash of hot sauce!

These pack well for lunch in a plastic container, and will refrigerate well if wrapped tightly:)

Saag Paneer, Pakoras, and the Queen of Fragrance.


Indian flare nights are always exciting at the homestead. Rich spices & flavors, fresh vegetables, and wholesome grains. I also love meals where there are plenty of condiments to choose from. Chutneys are a delicious accompaniment to Indian dishes. Traditionally they contain fruit, vinegar, sugar, and spices, and can range from mild to hot, chunky or smooth. So tonight we made a HUGE meal, with the hopes of leftovers carrying us through the following day.

If you live in San Diego, I have recently been introduced to our “Little India.” And might I add, I can’t believe its taken me this long to get there!
Over in Clairemont, by Black Mountain road, you can find all sorts of cheap, Indian grocery stores, restaurants, and other fun things such as fashion outlets for saroongs! I was blown away with the minimal prices, as well as the authentic selection of food. For a couple staple items, I grabbed a big sack of basmati rice, a bag of imported chick pea flour, incense, bulk turmeric, cold lychee drinks, and some culinary tips from the store-run family!

Saag Paneer tends to be a favorite amongst us veg-heads. I believe its a result of all the minerals we intake when we eat large doses of spinach. But whats a girl to do when most of her favorite Indian restaurants are consumed with using ghee, and paneer?
Get to work in the kitchen thats what!
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Paneer, it is a homemade cheese, made by curdled milk and lemon or lime juice. It is quite similar to tofu, so its easy to substitute. Ghee is actually a very healthy way of eating butter, but of course, I ALWAYS use my favorite, earth balance butter. I couldn’t give away my favorite saag recipe, but here is my pakora recipe. This is awesome for those of you trying to stay away from wheat and gluten. It is also *super* fun and simple to make! If you have a mortar and pestle, I suggest using that to grind your seeds and mix your other spices. If not, a coffee grinder will grind them just fine!


Assorted Veggies, broccoli & cauliflower florets are a hit! If your going to be using thicker vegetables, such as yams, or carrots, try steaming them first to soften up.

1 1/2 cups chick-pea flour (besan flour)
1 cup filtered water
2 tea. turmeric
1 1/2 tea. cumin seeds
1 tea. mustard seeds
1 tea. garam masala
1/2 tea. sea salt
1/2 tea. hing
1/2 tea. cayenne

***Start by mixing the flour and water in a bowl to make a stiff dough, then adding a little more while beating with wire whisk, to make a thick batter. Let sit for 30 min.
Meanwhile, grind and mix your seeds & spices.
After 30 minutes, mix spices in, batter should still be thick.

If you have one of those cute little home use deep fryers, they will turn out perfect, but those of us who don’t…..
Heat a pan with a fair amount of oil. (I use sunflower oil)
Submerge a vegetable floret into the batter, then quickly & gently drop into heated oil.
If entire floret is not covered, batter may slightly fall, so just be quick on turning them. When all sides are slightly browned, remove and drain on paper towel. Serve at once, accompanied by a sweet mango chutney.


Rub my belly Chocolate Puddin’


Yes, even Buddha would appreciate a healthy chocolate pudding every now and again.

As I’ve said before, chocolate is my favorite feel-good super food!
If you’ve read the key lime pie post, I mentioned being fascinated with my new hip grocery item, carbonated soy-whip cream! So this is what else I did with it.
Simple, yet elegant, Rich Chocolate Pudding. Made with only a few ingredients, this dessert can be made in a jiffy. Its also a bonus that most of the ingredients are a probable staple in most veggie pioneer kitchens!

This recipe is really about getting the basics, and using your own taste buds.

Start with 1 pound of silken tofu, drain and set on paper towel for 15 min.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt 1.75 cups of your favorite vegan chocolate chips with about a 1/4 cup of soymilk (I use grain sweetened sunspire chips!)
Crumble tofu, and place in food processor. Add melted chocolate, 1 Tab. of coconut oil, and 1/2 a scraped vanilla bean.
Blend till smooth. Test for sweetness, and richness. If you feel you need a little more sweetener, add in some blue agave syrup. For a boost, you could add a teaspoon of extract such as mint, almond, or orange.
This makes about 4-5 servings. Get funky and add some whip cream, chocolate chips, sprinkled cinnamon, shaved coconut, etc. Have fun!

Some more recent fun facts about Chocolate:


I’ve recently read an article on chocolate fueling our cars….
Well sort of. But how???
Scientists extract hydrogen through gases in waste food. They then began converting formic acid to hydrogen like mad.
The discovery of a way to extract hydrogen from food waste could be a real breakthrough for both industry and the environment, because the process isn’t restricted to chocolate waste. It works equally well on many other types of food waste.
The ability to convert food waste into clean renewable energy instead of garbage has the potential to transform the food industry. Using this process, food factories could conceivably use their own waste products to power their manufacturing operations, or to fuel a fleet of hydrogen-powered vehicles.

Wouldn’t that be nice? I still have no sympathy for the Hummer drivers of the world, but this guy gets a star…….
The first H20 powered Hummer!


Bye Bye Birdie Tempeh Salad


Tempeh is made by fermenting soybeans, binded together by a mold called rhizopus. I know what your thinking….a mold?!?!? Yes a mold! This mold produces a medicinal antibiotic to increase our bodies resistance to infections, and helps to eliminate toxins. The most widely used tempeh, come in flavors such as flax or grain.

This recipe was a KF favorite, now yours to share! Tempeh is best marinaded overnight. So its worth it to give your self some extra prep time. If your feeling frisky, mix in some sunflower seeds for an extra crunch!


  • 1 8oz. pkg. tempeh, cut in cubes
  • 1 Tab. garlic, minced
  • 1 Tab. ginger, minced
  • 2 Tab. sesame oil
  • 3 Tab. Tamari (wheat-free)

***Toss all ingredients in large bowl and let sit overnight

After marinaded, lightly sautee the tempeh, and all those yummy juices, till lightly browned. Allow to cool.

Meanwhile, In another large bowl:

  • 3/4 cup veganaise
  • 1 Lr. celery stalk
  • 2 Tab. red onion, minced
  • 2 scallions, sliced thin
  • 1 kosher dill pickle
  • 2 Tab. fresh dill, minced

***When tempeh has cooled, mix into the large bowl. Test the flavor, you may want to add some sea salt & fresh ground pepper.

Borscht Soup w/ Herbed Tofu Sour Cream


As we all know, Borscht comes to us from Russia and Poland. Beets are high in potassium, and those green leafy tops contain more iron than spinach itself. Beets are especially great in the summer! The acidity & sweetness of the OJ in this recipe helps to make this soup a tad sweet, and super creamy. As for the sour cream, the fresh herbs help to cut the bland taste of the tofu.

Vegan Borscht

  • 4 cups filtered water
  • 4 cups beets, peeled & diced
  • 1 big tomato
  • 2 carrots, peeled & diced
  • 1 med red pepper, seeded & diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 big red onion, diced
  • 4 green onions, or scallions
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1/3 cup fresh squeezed OJ (save some zest for garnish!)
  • Sea salt & pepper to taste

*In large pot, combine water, beets, tomato, carrots, and bell pepper, and bay leaf. Bring to boil, and allow to simmer for 30 min.

Meanwhile, Heat 1 Tab. of olive oil in saute pan over medium heat. Add in onion, scallions, and garlic. Saute till onions are translucent. Gently stir in parsley once heat is turned off.

Remove bay leaf from broth mixture. Then combine sauteed vegetables with broth mixture. If using a food processor, you may need to puree in batches, but if you have a small hand held blender, use it! I haven’t tried to puree this in my blender, but if you’ve got a vitamix, it should work!

After you’ve pureed the mixture, stir in the OJ, sea salt, and pepper.

For the Tofu Sour Cream:

  • 2 tea. agar-agar powder
  • 4 Tab. fresh lime juice
  • 2 Tab. fresh lemon juice
  • 16 oz. tofu, firm
  • 1/2 cup cold pressed olive oil
  • 2 Tab. of each: chives, cilantro, basil
  • 2 tea. sea salt
  • 1/2 tea. garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tea. blk. pepper

***In a small stainless steel bowl, dissolve agar in fresh lemon & lime juice.  Blanch tofu for 5 minutes, drain and cool for 20 minutes.  Blend all ingredients and till smooth. If mixture is still warm, transfer to bowl and let sit in refrigerator till chilled.  Dollop Sour cream to top the Borscht, along with some orange zest and minced chives.