Posts Tagged ‘appetizer’

Portobello Sliders!

It seems that I’m super into mini sliders lately! I came up with this while reading a recipe for a portobello burger in this month’s Rachael Ray magazine. It’s extremely easy & fast to assemble and Zak has now proclaimed this as his new favorite! These are great to serve as appetizers at your next party or if you make a few, you can have them for dinner (and because they’re tiny, you won’t feel so guilty after eating say 10)!

Servings: 6 mini sliders

Time from start to plate: 40 minutes

6 mini portobello mushrooms, stems removed

6 mini slider buns

Balsamic vinegar

Olive oil


1 jalapeño, veins & seeds removed & diced

1 onion sliced very thin





This is how we do:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

In a bowl, pour some balsamic vinegar & olive oil (about 1/4 cup of each). Dunk your mini portobello mushrooms and let them soak for a minute in the balsamic mixture. Place them on a foiled baking sheet with the opening of the caps facing up. Fill each cap with some diced jalapeños.You can add more than one jalapeño if you like a lot of heat but even just one gives a good strong kick. Fill each cap with daiya shreds and then pop the baking sheet into the oven. Let them bake for about 20 to 25 minutes (the daiya cheese should get nice & melty).

While your caps are cooking, you can sauté your onions! You can also choose to grill them if you prefer.

Once your caps are done, turn your oven off but leave them in until you’re ready to assemble your sliders. Toast your buns and then add layers of veganaise, dijon and ketchup. Then add some arugula, sautéed onions, and finish with your slider. Garnish with a cornichon (they are a MUST to complete this dish). 🙂 Try not to eat more than 5 in one sitting.


Shut the front door! Bread in 60 minutes?!

fast bread

You heard me. That’s right. Bread in 60 minutes! When I found this recipe, I couldn’t believe it. I’d tried No Knead Bread before when my friend Jena Mainey introduced me to it, and was amazed. But when I found this recipe, I had to pick my jaw up off the floor. Everyone should try it! It’s super easy & very yummy. So the next time you come home from work and your tired and all you want is some delicious, steaming hot bread to go with your Earth Balance & vino, MAKE THIS BREAD!easy bread







Mexican Corn!!

Mexican corn
When the weather gets warmer & corn is available at every store & farmer’s market you go to, it’s time to make this! Eating grilled corn this way totally reminds me of 2 happy moments in life: 1) when I was a kid, a man would sell corn in my neighborhood and slather it with butter, mayo, chili powder & cotija! 2) Eating this with my trouble maker buddies, Jerelynn & Heather in NYC at Cafe Habana. Below is my veganized version of it. Please enjoy and IT MUST BE SERVED WITH A BEER. If you don’t eat this with beer, La Llorona will get you!!!

Servings: 4 corn cobs (I might say this is a serving for one….)

4 ears of corn

Vegan butter

1/4 cup of veganaise 

Chili powder

Nutritional yeast powder

1 lime

This is how we do:
Grill your corn! While those guys are getting their grill on, mix the following in a small bowl – the veganaise, zest from the lime & the lime juice. Once your corn is done grilling, smother it with some butter and then the veganaise mixture. Dust nutritional yeast & chili powder all around. CHOW DOWN!

Potato Salad

Recently, my lovely friend Juliette told me about a French-style potato salad that her mother always made her. She described a very light & delicious dish filled with potatoes, onions, mayo & vinegar. I then remembered the Japanese-style potato salad I grew up with – potatoes with peas, cucumbers, carrots, mayo and a hint of hot mustard. I then thought, why not create a mixture of both! Below is the recipe I came up with. It combines the light, yet creamy sauce of the French-style, while adding texture and kick from the Japanese-style. I hope you guys try it out and enjoy! 🙂

Servings: 6

Time from start to plate: 30 minutes


About 1 lb. of potatoes, cubed (I used fingerlings)

1 cup of peas

1/2 an onion sliced very thinly

2 cucumbers (peeled and thinly sliced)

1/2 cup of vegan may (I LOVE Vegenaise)

1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar (you can try white too, I just had this variety on hand)

1-2 tsp of hot mustard

salt & pepper to taste

This is how we do:
Boil potatoes in salted hot water for about 10 minutes or until they are ready (you’ll know they’re ready when you can pick a piece out, rinse under cold water, and easily bite into it). When your potatoes are ready, drain and rinse under cold water. Let cool for a few minutes. In a bowl, add the potatoes, onions, peas, cucumbers and mayo. Add a little by little the vinegar and hot mustard and mix. If you want the sauce to be lighter and acidic, add more vinegar. If you want more of a kick, add more hot mustard. Add salt and pepper to taste. Once you have the right consistency and amount heat desired, EAT!!!

Soft Cheeze Topped with Pea Puree, Crispy Mushooms and Garlic Basil Olive Oil

Recently some friends and I dined at the very delish Bottega in Napa.  Chef Michael Chiarello is amazing! Obviously, there was a great deal that I couldn’t eat, but I definitely walked away feeling very inspired. I especially was blown away by his Mozzarella Burrata with English Pea Puree dish. I immediately began thinking of ways I could veganize this dish and enjoy it with the hubby. Below is what I came up with. I hope you all give it a try with the vegan cheeze version or with real creamy mozzarella. If you end up going with real mozzarella and can’t get your hands on burrata, I think you can get away with making this with super fresh mozzarella or real cream cheese.

Servings: 6-8  (this recipe comes out with 3 stacks, each of which provide portions for up to 3 people)

Time from start to plate: 1 and 15 minutes

1 8-0z tub of Toffuti Cream Cheese

2 cups of frozen peas (I usually soak these in warm water and keep doing so to defrost them to keep them from being overly cooked or soggy)

1 tbsp of white vinegar

2 tbsp of minced garlic

1/2 tsp of truffle oil (optional)

olive oil


lemon pepper

1 bunch of fresh basil, thinly chopped

Micro greens

2 small Portobello mushrooms

This is how we do:
Begin by preheating your oven to 250 degrees F as you will need about a full hour to make your crispy Portobello mushrooms. Slice your Portobello mushrooms very thin and coat with olive oil & sprinkle with salt. Lay the mushrooms flat on a baking sheet and place in the oven. Let these bake in their while you prepare the rest of the dish. About halfway through though (after about half an hour), take the dish out and flip each mushroom slice to make sure that both sides get crispy. Check on these guys from time to time while you work on the rest to make sure you don’t burn them.

Now onto the soft cheeze. Empty the Tofutti cream cheese into a bowl. Drizzle about 2 tbsp of olive oil & 1 tbsp of white vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and mix. You don’t have to mix it well just make sure that all of the cheeze is well coated in the mixture. Place and refrigerator until you are ready to plate.

For the pea puree, once you have thawed them, place them in a food processor with 1 tbsp of minced garlic. Add some salt & lemon pepper to taste as well as the 1/2 tsp of truffle oil. Puree until it turns into a nice, thick mush. Refrigerate this until you are ready to plate as well.

In a smaller bowl, place 3-4 tbsp of olive oil (you can replace 1 to 2 of the tbsp of olive oil with DHA/flaxseed oil – this is my way of always trying to sneak this stuff into our diet as vegans need to supplement as much DHA and omega fatty acids as possible). Add salt & pepper to taste, along with 1 tbsp of minced garlic & 1 bunch of chopped basil. Let this sit out (don’t put it in the fridge) until you’re ready to drizzle onto your plate.

When the mushroom has been sitting in the oven for about an hour and is done crisping, you can plate your dish. Take the mushrooms out of the oven and let them cool off.

Now take out the pea puree & softened cream cheese out of the refrigerator. Place a steel round form (or a round cookie cutter if you don’t have a form) on the center of your plate. First pat down a layer of the cheeze (about 1/2 inch thick). Then add the pea puree on top (about 1 inch thick). Top with micro greens and garnish sides with the crispy mushrooms. Drizzle the garlic basil oil on top and serve!

Bell Pepper Poke on Crispy Rice Cake

This dish is one that I used to make & love with ahi tuna. Now that our household no longer eats tuna though, I found myself craving it greatly one day and trying to find a substitute. It’s super easy & delish! You can make it both vegan or non-vegan with tuna, as appetizers!

Servings: 6-8 depending on how big you make your rice cakes
Time from start to plate: 30-40 minutes (with prep needed at least 2 hours beforehand to marinade)

1 cup of roasted bell peppers (soak these in water for about 20-30 minutes and then drain), diced

1/4 cup of soy sauce

1/4 cup of chopping green onions (chop these very thin)

1 cup of yellow onion minced

2-3 tsp of sesame oil

1 tsp grated fresh ginger

1 chili pepper, seeded and diced (BE VERY CAREFUL WHEN SEEDING)

salt to taste

2 tsp of sesame seeds

2 cups of sushi rice (you can prepare japanese short grain rice & season with Trader Joe’s seasoned rice vinegar to cheat or check out this awesome tutorial here)

Canola oil for frying

1/2 to 1/4 cup of macadamia nuts, crushed

This is how we do:
Either 2 hours before you’re ready to start assembling or the night before, prepare the marinade. In a bowl add all ingredients from the bell peppers to the sesame seeds and mix. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

After making the sushi rice, wet your hands to assemble the rice cakes. Wetting your hands is key as it prevents the rice from sticking to your palms. Scoop some rice onto your wet hands and form into patties. If you want to be super fancy and impress your friends, use a round or shaped cookie cutter to form the patties into clean/fun forms. Make sure to pack the cakes really tight otherwise it will fall apart when you fry. When you are done forming the patties, heat up some oil in a pan. Heat enough oil so that half of the cake is immersed. When the oil reaches 350 degrees, carefully drop a cake into the oil. You can test if the oil is ready by dropping a grain into the oil. If it starts to sizzle immediately the oil is ready. Fry on each side until brown (about 1 minute per side). Once the cake is browned and crispy, drain on paper towels.

On a plate, stack your cake together. Place a crispy cake, then top with some bell pepper poke. Add some macadamia nuts on top & eat! Nom nom nom!!

New Year’s Eve Dinner

As I mentioned previously, there was a ton o’ cooking and eating going on at our house on New Year’s Eve. Below is a menu of what we feasted on along with the how-to’s! Hope you can enjoy and try out at least one of the recipes below!

New Year’s Eve Dinner Menu paired with Sangria, Lambrusco  & Champagne

Starter: Mushroom Pate, Vegetable Bruschetta with Crackers

Main dish: Tomato Bisque Soup with Whole Wheat Rosemary & Onion Focaccia

Desert: Chocolate Kahula Cinnamon Mousse

Recipe for Mushroom Pate 

I came across this amazing recipe from my very awesome friend Dianna (who always introduces me to all things fun, cool and vegan). It’s very easy to make and everyone raves how delish it is (especially my husband who acts like a crack fiend whenever he sees this stuff)! You can find the original recipe here on the PETA site.

Servings: can easily be an appetizer for a small dinner party

Time from start to plate: 3 hours (or 1 if you are OK with not refrigerating for 2 hours after preparation, like my husband who if he could would start eating it straight from the blender)

Adaptations: The recipe calls for 1/8 tsp of truffle oil but we all know how much I LOVE the stuff so I upped the portion to about 1/2 to 1 tsp of truffle oil. I think it definitely makes it richer. If you don’t want to add the extra truffle oil in when making the dish, you can also drizzle some on top when serving.

Recipe for Veggie Bruschetta

You can easily make this with any veggies you have on hand. It’s just a fun way to use up your groceries or sneak in some usually unwanted veggies into someone’s meal!

Servings: Varies depending on how much you want to make. I made about 2 cups.

Time from start to plate: 25 minutes


1.5 cups of chopped veggies sauteed for about 10 minutes (until they’re soft) with light salt and pepper. For the New Year’s Eve dinner, I used onions, brussel sprouts, corn, and mushrooms.

1/2 cup of chopped olives (you can use any kind, I had green spanish olives on hand but you can do this with any sort of olives)

Sprinkling of dried rosemary

This is how we do: Once you sauteed the veggies with some salt & pepper for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add to a bowl. Add the chopped olives and dried rosemary. Mix well and serve with toast or crackers!

Tomato Bisque Soup 

Servings: 6

Time from start to plate: 45 minutes


4 tbsp of vegan margarine

1 onion, chopped

2-3 carrots, chopped

1 bunch of celery, chopped

7-10 tomatoes chopped up

2 tsp of minced garlic

less than a 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour

5 cups of vegan chicken broth (I LOVE Better Than Bouillon, I can’t live without this stuff)

3/4 cup of raw cashews

1/2 cup of non-dairy milk

1/4 tsp of salt and some more for taste

Pepper to taste

Chives for garnish

This is how we do:

Sprinkle some salt into a pot and melt the vegan margarine. This creates a non-stick effect!! An amazing trick I learned from the super talented and inspiring Tal Ronnen in one of THE most brilliant cookbooks ever – The Conscious Cook. Everyone should go get a copy now! Anyhoo, back to the cooking! Once you’ve melted the margarine, place the chopped onion, carrots and celery into the pot and saute for about 10 minutes (or until the veggies start to become soft). Then add the chopped tomatoes and saute some more for a couple of minutes. Then add the flour a spoonful at a time (you want to try to thicken the mixture you have going but not dry it out completely). Then add the broth and have it come to a boil all together and then simmer for a few minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

While your veggies were cooking and your soup was boiling, place the 3/4 cup of raw cashews in a food processor and blend. Once the cashews are ground up, add the salt and the 1/4 cup of non-dairy milk. Process all together until the mixture is nice and smooth.

While your soup is simmering, add the cashew mixture to the pot and stir. Once you mixed it together well, remove from heat. Place soup in a blender and puree away! Be very careful if your soup is very hot while you blend! I don’t know if you ever tried to blend something while it’s super hot but it tends to create a lot of air pressure within the blender from the steam and can push the top right off, spraying hot soup everywhere (I’m unfortunately speaking from experience). Once the mixture is nicely blended, serve in bowls & garnish with faaaaancy looking chives! Enjoy!

Whole Wheat Onion & Rosemary Focaccia

This is a recipe I adapted from Tal Ronnen’s cookbook The Conscious Cook (like I said earlier, it is AMAZING and once you read it, you’ll never be able to cook without it).   I think the recipe below offers a good base that you can change and experiment with different types of flour and flavors/herbs.

Servings: about 6

Time from start to plate: about 4 hours (most of it is waiting on the dough to rise)


3-4 cups of whole wheat flour

1 tbs of sugar (do not use agave or any other substitute, it’s important to use actual sugar here for the yeast to feed on)

1.5 cups of warm water

1 packet of active yeast


1 cup of olive oil

1 tbs of vegan margarine

1 tbs of dried rosemary needles

2 onions thinly sliced

freshly ground pepper

This is how we do:
If you have a stand mixer, I would highly recommend using it with a dough hook as it mixes everything nicely and is much easier. Start by putting the sugar and warm water in a bowl and stir until it dissolves. Place the yeast in the sugar water mixture and let it sit – do not mix. Come back in 20 minutes and the mixture should be foamy. If it’s not, it means that the yeast mixture didn’t work and you’ll need to start all over.

Set aside a 1/3 cup of oil and from this batch, place one spoonful into the yeast mixture. Add a cup of flour with two pinches of salt. Start the stand mixer at low. Keep adding a spoonful of oil with a cup of flour and pinches of salt until you have added about 3 cups. If the dough isn’t firm yet, add a little more flour. If the dough is dry, add some more oil. Once you have a smooth, firm dough, remove it from the dough hook and place it in a well oiled bowl.  Make sure to turn the dough in the oil to coat all of it. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let it rise for 2 hours (that’s about 4 episodes of 30 Rock 🙂 ).

When you return the dough, it should’ve at least doubled in size and puffed up. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and brush oil on it. Gently stretch the dough on the pan  – DO NOT roll it or push it out. With your finger, add dimples throughout the dough an inch apart. Cover with the towel and let it rise for another 20 to 30 minutes.

While the dough is rising in the pan, sprinkle some salt onto a pan. Add the vegan margarine and a tbs of oil and melt over the salt. Add the thinly sliced onions and saute. Stir frequently and keep cooking until the onions are soft and browned.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a small bowl, add 3 tbs of olive oil, 4 pinches of salt, pepper, and the rosemary needles. Brush the top of the dough with the mixture. Bake the dough for about 10 minutes. Then take the pan out to rotate it but also add the sauteed onions. Bake for another 10 minutes until the top is browned. Take the bread out and let cool before cutting into squares and serving.

Chocolate Kahula Cinnamon Mousse

I adapted this recipe from one the lovely and talented Dianna sent me from Vegansaurus. You can find the original recipe here which I added a 2tbsp of kahula and a couple dashes of cinnamon to! It is very easy to make and super decadent!