Category Archives: Vegan Substitutions

♥ Chorizo Breakfast Scramble

Have you tried Julie Hasson’s method for making tofu scrambles yet? We LOVE it; it makes a wonderful tofu scramble with a fantastic sog-free (is that a word?!) texture. This scramble has become a weekend staple for us. It’s a hearty and filling breakfast that keeps us full for hours.

I don’t think that I ever tried “real” chorizo in my pregan days. After snapping this photo of a random package of beef chorizo in the grocery store, I can see why I was never brave enough to try it. The first three ingredients, in order, are: beef salivary glands, lymph nodes and fat. If that alone wouldn’t deter a person, how about 320 calories and 31 grams of fat (13 grams of which are saturated) and 1,170 milligrams of sodium per each 2.5 ounce serving? One package (usually one meal) contains five servings. Yikes!

The first three ingredients of our favorite chorizo (Trader Joe’s brand) are textured soy protein, soy oil and distilled vinegar. The same serving size as the beef chorizo has only 140 calories, 10 grams of fat (1.5 grams of which are saturated) and 700 milligrams of sodium. Personally, I like these numbers a lot better. And, according to the man who actually tried the nasty beef crap in his former life, the flavor is so much better.

J likes his scramble in a warmed tortilla. I like it rolled up in a cabbage leaf. And it’s pretty darn good simply served in a bowl, too. To make this an even heartier meal (say on breakfast-for-dinner night), add some black beans to the mix. Top with salsa or green pepper sauce. Muy bueno!

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Chorizo Breakfast Scramble


1 container of firm or extra-firm water-packed tofu, rinsed and pressed

3 cups sliced mushrooms

1 poblano (or bell) pepper, diced

1 teaspoon Mexican oregano

1 bunch green onions, sliced (or same amount of chopped red onion)

1 12-ounce package of soy chorizo

1 cup of frozen corn

1 cup cooked black beans, optional

1 cup diced tomato, optional

1/4 cup raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)


Rinse and press the tofu while prepping the vegetables.

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Add a spray of extra-virgin olive oil so that the bottom of the skillet is very lightly coated.  Crumble the tofu into pieces and add to the hot skillet. Break up any large pieces of tofu with a flat-edged spatula.  Let the tofu cook, stirring occasionally, until the tofu has released its extra water, and has turned golden brown.

Add the mushrooms, pepper, oregano and red onion (if using). Cook until the mushrooms are tender.

Add the chorizo and stir to combine. After that, add the green onions (if using) corn, black beans (if using), tomato (if using) and the pumpkin seeds. Continue to cook, stirring, until heated throughout and the liquid is absorbed.

Remove the skillet from the heat and serve the scramble warm.


♥ Giving Thanks For Leftovers

I hear a lot of supposedly good-natured ribbing that our Thanksgiving holiday is somehow lacking because we don’t cook a turkey. And I just do a mental eye roll and silently count to ten. Since when does the giving of thanks for the blessings in one’s life and gathering with family and friends only have meaning and significance when done over the mutilated carcass of a gentle and sentient being? Personally, I think the holiday has more value and significance when it is thoughtful and compassionate.

Peace on earth for ALL creatures.

Every year I swear that I won’t do it: that I won’t spend the entire Thanksgiving day (and the night before) in the kitchen cooking . And then, every year, I do it anyway. So much for resolutions. But, on the plus side, we always stretch the leftovers through the weekend. One marathon cooking day equals several days of feasting for us.

A good looking plate of leftovers.

Our Thanksgiving feast wasn’t lacking for anything. We enjoyed a Tofurky Roast baked with turnips, parsnips, fennel root and mushrooms. I made a simple baste for the Tofurky using the recipe on the box, but I added dried thyme and rosemary leaves, in addition to the sage, along with a tablespoon of pomegranate concentrate. Add a generous dollop of homemade cranberry sauce, Momma’s special holiday stuffing and savory red wine mushroom gravy over all. So good!

Sausage chestnut stuffing with mushroom gravy.

No self-respecting holiday meal would be complete without homemade rolls. I adapted this recipe for the bread machine for what is now our favorite dinner roll recipe (and it makes good doughnuts, too). I substitute plain soy milk and Earth Balance for the milk and butter and EnerG Egg Replacer for the egg. I also increase the amount of yeast called for in the recipe. Best of all, the bread machine does the work while the Tofurky and the side dishes are roasting in the oven.

These rolls are so light and fluffy; they practically melt in your mouth.

I like to try a new recipe every year, and this year I chose this recipe, from Urban Vegan. Fig-Pecan Stuffed Acorn Squash will surely make repeat appearances at future holiday dinners. The figs and pecans with the squash are such a delightful combination and perfect for Thanksgiving. I generally followed the recipe (as much as I ever do), but I increased the pecans to 3/4 cup and decreased the agave to 1/4 cup. I also stirred in a scant 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt into the filling before baking.

A side dish so good it should be served on a dessert plate.

As a kid (and still to this day), I detested the standard Thanksgiving side dish of candied yams with marshmallows baked on top. In fact, it is because of this childhood trauma that years elapsed before I willingly made a yam side dish for my own family at Thanksgiving. Now, it’s glazed yams (from fresh and not canned in heavy syrup) with candied nuts in place of the marshmallows, or it’s nothing.

Forget the marshmallows, walnut toffee is where it's at.

The Chinese five spice powder in the glaze makes this exotic side dish something special, and it has become a holiday staple for us. Of course, I don’t follow the recipe exactly. I substitute Earth Balance for the butter and I add a liberal sprinkling of salt and pepper to the glaze. I replace the corn syrup in the toffee with maple syrup and I increase the amount of walnuts to 1-1/2 cups. A word of warning, though: it’s a good idea to halve the recipe if you aren’t cooking for a crowd.

Past Thanksgivings, I made both a cranberry apple pie and a pumpkin pie (yeah, I spent a lot of time rolling pie crusts). Then I discovered this recipe for Pumpkin Cheesecake With Candied Cranberries and now I make just one dessert. The combination of pumpkin and cheesecake with the candied cranberry topping provides the best of our favorite desserts and it is a perfect end to a Thanksgiving dinner.

A perfectly fitting Thanksgiving dessert.

I make my cheesecake with a gingersnap crust and I have found that you can easily halve the amount of sugar and water for the candied cranberries (like the recipe says, though, the leftover syrup is wonderful on pancakes and waffles). I recommend placing the cranberry topping on each slice of cheesecake just before serving (I learned this the hard way this year). Otherwise, the cheesecake gets a little sloppy. Still yummy, but not so pretty.

So, what are your favorite holiday side dishes?

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I hope everyone had a wonderful and memorable Thanksgiving holiday. And that life’s blessings, big and small, are bountiful throughout the year.

And may we have the strength to survive the remaining weeks of the holiday madness. ♥

♥ Hot Diggity Dogs!

Sunday morning, J and I traveled down the mountain to the charming small town of Minden, located on the eastern slope of the Sierras.

Minden was hosting its annual Arts & Crafts Fair and our local greyhound group had a “meet & greet” booth at the fair. We volunteered our greyt boy to help out and represent the cause.  The hounds greeted the public and lapped up the attention from the passersby.

While their humans answered questions about greyhounds and greyhound adoption. And why everybody should adopt or sponsor a greyhound.  🙂

Truthfully, we were just excited for O’Siris to see some fellow greyhounds again. They say that greyhounds are one of a few breeds that recognize their own kind and it seems to be true, at least for our boy. Except for the yellow lab down the street that O’Si is sweet on, greyhounds are the only dogs that our docile boy is immediately comfortable with.

Then, the rowdy girl showed up for her shift and began to “sing” for the boys. The others quickly joined in.

As for the rest of the fair, it was typical: artsy-craftsy home and yard decor, specialty “gourmet” sauces and the miracle skin cream/youth in a bottle promises. There was plenty of the typical fair food, too: funnel cakes (never had one), barbecued animal (ugh) and kettle corn. I tried two bites of the kettle corn (purchased by one of the greyt volunteers) and wondered why I used to like the stuff. Homemade caramel corn is SO much better (shameless plug here)!

I saw many corn dog wielding people walking by our booth, too. It pains me to admit it, but I once loved those hand-dipped and fried corn dogs that you could find every year at the county fair. I’m so ashamed. I’m sorry.

So, I had a renewed craving and an idea. I searched the web and found a fair-style corn dog recipe and I dug my “Twinkie” pan out of the back of the cupboard, and I got busy. The end result resembled a Twinkie more than the traditional corn dog, but they were delicious nonetheless (kids love them!). I barely managed to snap a picture of the Twinkie dogs before the sun went down, but you get the idea.

I used the regular size Lightlife Smart Dogs for this batch of corn dogs, because that was what I had on hand. The jumbo size Smart Dogs (or better yet, Tofurky or Field Roast sausages) would be a better fit for making corn dogs using the Twinkie pan method. And, of course, using less corn dog batter than I did so that the end result resembles a corn dog more and a Twinkie less. Lesson learned!

I served the corn dogs with organic ketchup and a quick agave mustard sauce  (that is awesome with chick’n tenders, by the way): 1/3 cup Dijon mustard, 2 Tablespoons agave nectar and 1 Tablespoon molasses.

To atone for the fact that I was serving “carnie” food for dinner, I made a huge bowl of Garlicky Massaged Kale Salad to even things out. If you are a fan of the kale salads found in Whole Foods or Co-Op delis, you will love this salad. It’s so addictive – we have it at least two times a week here!

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Baked Corn Twinkie Dogs


1 cup white whole wheat flour, plus more for dusting

2/3 cup organic yellow cornmeal

2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

2 Tablespoons melted coconut oil

1-1/4 cups soy milk mixed with 1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

EnerG egg replacer for 1 egg

6 to 8 vegan hot dogs or sausages

Wooden sticks (or bamboo skewers), optional


Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray the Twinkie pan with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt, paprika and mustard. Set aside.

Stir in the melted coconut oil, then make a well in the center. Add the egg replacer and the “buttermilk”. Mix until the batter is smooth and well-blended.

Place about 1/4 cup of flour on a plate or in a shallow bowl. Ladle a small amount of the corn dog batter into the bottom of the prepared Twinkie pan (just enough to coat the bottom). Cut the hot dogs (or sausages) to fit the pan, if necessary. Roll the dogs in the flour to coat and place in the pan. Ladle more batter over the dogs, just enough to cover, and wipe off any excess batter.

Place the pan in the oven and bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until a lovely golden brown. Insert sticks in the corn dogs just before serving, if desired.

Note: it is possible to bake corn dogs without a Twinkie pan. Insert the sticks into the floured hot dogs (or sausages) and dip the dogs in the batter, coating well. Place the battered dogs on a prepared (non-stick spray or parchment paper) baking sheet and place in the oven for about 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and scoop any batter that has slid off the corn dogs back into place and return the pan to the oven for the remainder of the baking time. Repeat the process if necessary.

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O’Siris at the end of his meet & greet  shift: all that work being charming for the public and socializing with the other hounds tires a boy out!

♥ Memorial Day . . . In Snow Boots

Memorial Day weekend once marked the beginning of summer for us . . . then we moved to Lake Tahoe. We had ambitious plans for working in the yard over the long weekend, but Saturday morning greeted us in what has become the usual manner:

And it snowed off and on all weekend (and throughout the week afterward, too). Since yard work was out of the question with the frigid cold and frequent snow flurries, J busied himself building deck planter boxes, which I figure that I will be able to use by the 4th of July!

And he made houses and feeders for the yard critters, too.

He even made a cute A-Frame bird house, just like our A-frame people house!

The new squirrel feeders were well received by the smaller Douglas squirrels.

They moved right in and made themselves at home.

“Fatty”, the larger Western Gray Squirrel, had some trouble getting in the hole!

It’s easier to grab the bird feeder and graze mid-air. Apparently.

The birds are so confused!

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By Monday, the snow let up for a few hours. It still wasn’t picnic weather, but we had plenty of picnic food. I managed to get a few pictures of the food on the deck before we came to our senses and retreated to the warm indoors. No coat and boots necessary!

I almost made J’s favorite chick’n tenders feast, but I decided to go the easy route with Tofurky Beer Brats. When served with sauerkraut on homemade buns, these beer brats are better than any greasy lips-and-ass sausage any old day of the week! The potato salad is a loose adaptation of Better Homes & Gardens’ Classic Potato Salad, veganized of course. The mayonnaise is replaced by (less) Vegenaise and the hard-cooked eggs are replaced with nutritional yeast. The pasta salad is (another) loose adaptation, from The Natural Vegan Kitchen. The barbecue baked beans are an old standby, using homemade barbecue sauce. I like this recipe, but I never add the fake meat.

For dessert, I made a S’Mores Pie from Vegan Desserts. Sorry, I have no picture because J placed the pie under the broiler to “toast” the marshmallow topping and he toasted it a bit too long. It still tasted all s’morey and awesome, because of the charred marshmallows (how we like ’em), but it didn’t look so pretty!

I originally planned to make just one dessert, but then I spotted this amazing recipe last Friday: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake. Seriously, chocolate chip cookie dough AND cheesecake? Together?! How does one resist that combination?!