pierogies 3 ways

Although we have spent Christmases together before, this year we celebrated our first married Christmas, which felt like the perfect opportunity to create a Christmas dinner tradition of our own. I really wanted to put a vegan twist on traditional foods our families serve during the holidays, but since my husband is Greek and I’m Polish we kept getting stuck on how to make a cohesive menu. Ultimately, we decided that we would make a Polish dish this year and a Greek dish next Christmas. For our Vegan-Polish-Christmas dinner, we made the following recipe of pierogies with 3 different fillings, all traditional, yet vegan. We served these yummy, doughy childhood memory inducing pockets of goodness with roasted carrots, turnips, and brussel sprouts seasoned with fresh thyme and rosemary. My Grandma Goginski would be proud.

Pierogies 3 Ways


2 cups All Purpose Flour
1 ½ tsp Egg Replacer Powder
½ cup Water
2-3 Tbsp Vegan Sour Cream
Plain Unsweetened Soymilk

Combine all ingredients except soymilk.
While kneading dough, add soymilk by the teaspoon until you can easily form a ball.
Split dough in half and roll out each half as thin as you can.
Using a 3” round cookie cutter or a glass, cut dough into circles.

Potato Onion Filling:
2 Red Potatoes, peeled and quartered
1/3 Onion, chopped
Fresh Thyme
Vegan Sour Cream
dash Salt
dash Pepper
Earth Balance non-dairy butter

Boil potatoes until just soft enough to easily pierce with a fork.
Use a slotted spoon to scoop out potatoes, leaving the boiling water in the pot.
Transfer potatoes into a dry sauté pan.
Sauté over med-high heat until excess moisture cooks out.
In a large bowl, mash potatoes with a fork.
Melt a small spoonful of butter in the sauté pan, and cook onions until they begin to brown.
Mix onions into potatoes.
Add a few spoonfuls of vegan sour cream until potato mixture is smooth.
Season with fresh thyme, salt, and pepper to taste.

Cabbage Filling:
1/3 head Cabbage
1/3 Onion, chopped
1/3 Vegetable Bouillon cube
dash Salt
dash Pepper
Earth Balance non-dairy butter

Carefully place the cabbage into the boiling water you saved from the potatoes.
Boil for 10 minutes.
Carefully removed the cabbage, leaving the boiling water in the pot.
Run cabbage under cold water and drain all excess moisture.
Chop cabbage into very thin strips.
Melt a spoonful of butter in the sauté pan and add shredded cabbage.
Once the cabbage begins to cook down, crush your bouillon cube into a powder and sprinkle into the pan.
Add onions and cook until they begin to brown.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Soysage Filling:
Your favorite vegan sausage, crumbled
1/3 onion, chopped

Saute onion and soysage crumbles until onion is translucent and soysage is heated through.

Putting it all Together:
Place a spoonful of your filling of choice in the center of each dough circle.
Fold the circle in half and pinch the edges of the pocket shut so that each pierogi is in the shape of a half moon.
Carefully drop the pierogies into the boiling water in small batches so you don’t overcrowd the pot.
Boil for 8 minutes.
Use a slotted spoon to scoop out the pierogies.
Melt a spoonful of butter in the sauté pan and sauté the boiled pierogies, turning once, until lightly browned on each side.

Serve with vegan sour cream.
Depending on how thin you can roll your dough and how much filling you make, this recipe can make anywhere from 25-50 pierogies.

For dessert, we baked these delectable Heart Shaped Apple Galettes from Veganomicon. Bon Apetit!


spinach artichoke stuffed mushrooms & rosemary foccacia

I find it disconcerting that spinach and artichokes, which marry into the most perfect flavor combination, seem to find their way exclusively into that fatty, cheesy dip found at every potluck and on every chain restaurant appetizer menu. In my effort to work this tasty pair of vegetables into a delicious vegan dish, the following recipe for Spinach Artichoke Stuffed Mushrooms was born. The flavor is so rich and savory; you won’t miss any of the gooey, cheesy mess of that dairy drenched dip. Tonight, we decided to make an incredibly easy Rosemary Foccacia to serve along side our mushrooms and it came together for such a satisfying meal. I have included some tips on timing the two dishes together below the recipes*.
Spinach Artichoke stuffed Mushrooms

2 large Portobellos
1 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
dash Salt
dash Pepper
1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Heat oil in a sauté pan over med-high heat.
Carefully remove the stems from the portobellos.
Season stemless portobellos with salt and pepper and sauté for about 3 minutes on each side.
Add balsamic vinegar to the sauté pan and allow it to reduce and coat the mushrooms. (This will happen very quickly.)
Once mushrooms are evenly coated, transfer them to a cookie sheet, cap side down.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 large clove Garlic, minced
¾ cup chopped Onion
3 oz fresh Spinach (about 2 handfuls)
4 chopped Artichokes (from an 8 oz can, packed in water and drained)
3 sprigs fresh Thyme, leaves removed
Nutritional Yeast
2 thin slices of a Whole Wheat Baguette (fresh or day old is fine)
¼ cup Vegetable Stock

Toast baguette slices in toaster oven.
Carefully cut each toasted slice into small cubes. (This should equal about ½ cup.)
In the same pan used to sauté the mushrooms, add a drizzle of olive oil, onion and garlic.
Saute onions and garlic for about 3 minutes.
Add spinach and cook until it begins to wilt.
Add artichokes, thyme, nutritional yeast (to your taste), and a dash of salt and pepper.
Add bread and vegetable stock.
Stir all ingredients until thoroughly combined.

Scoop ½ of the filling onto each portobello.
Sprinkle with nutritional yeast (to your taste).
Bake for 5-8 minutes.

Rosemary Foccacia

½ tsp Dry Active Yeast
1 cup Warm Water
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
additional Extra Virgin Olive Oil for topping

1 ½ cups Whole Wheat Flour
½ tsp Sea Salt
additional Sea Salt for topping
2 Tbsp Fresh Rosemary, chopped
1 sprig Fresh Rosemary for topping

In a large bowl, combine yeast and water until yeast has dissolved.
Add olive oil to yeast mixture.
In another bowl, combine flour, sea salt and chopped rosemary.
Combine wet and dry ingredients.
Knead dough on a lightly floured surface for about 5 minutes.
Form dough into a ball and coat with olive oil.
Place in a bowl covered with a towel and allow the dough to rise for 30 minutes.
Knead dough on a lightly floured surface for about 2 minutes.
Using a floured rolling pin, roll dough flat and press into a circular cake pan.
Poke several times with a fork, brush with olive oil, and sprinkle with fresh rosemary leaves and sea salt.
Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.
Cover pan with a towel and let the dough rise again for about 20 minutes.
Bake for 25 minutes until the bread has lightly browned.
Let bread cool for about 10 minutes before serving.
Serve with extra virgin olive oil and/or balsamic vinegar for dipping.

*If you’re planning on making these two dishes together, here are some tips for perfect timing. While your dough is rising for the second time, prep all of your ingredients for your stuffed mushrooms and pre-heat the oven. Once your bread is in the oven, begin the recipe for the mushrooms. When you take the bread out to cool, pop the mushrooms in the oven. By the time your portobellos are done, the bread will be cool enough to slice and serve along side them.


mediterranean garbanzo burgers

No matter how creative we are in the kitchen, simple black bean burgers are still a staple at our house. Whether we make them on our own or resort to the frozen (yet delicious) versions, we almost never get tired of them. For those days that are the exception, garbanzo beans are a great alternative to black beans. For these Mediterranean Garbanzo Burgers, I add Sunergia's organic Soy Feta to create a surprisingly delicious flavor. I have yet to see this awesome alternative to cheese at the big box supermarket, but your local co-op or health food store should carry it. You can check out all of Sunergia's soy foods at their website here. (Their soy feta is also really good crumbled on salads, in pita sandwiches, or on pasta.)
Mediterranean Garbanzo Burgers

1 can Garbanzo Beans (chickpeas)
handful Kalamata olives, chopped
2 oz. Soy Feta
1 large clove Garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp Ener-G Egg Replacer Powder
2 Tbsp Water
2 tsp Tahini
1/2 cup Whole Wheat Panko Bread Crumbs
2 sprigs Fresh Rosemary, chopped
dash salt
dash pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

In a large bowl, mash chickpeas with a fork.
Add olives and garlic and mix well.
Crumble the soy feta and add to the mixture.
In a small bowl combine Ener-G, water, and tahini and mix well.
In another small bowl combine bread crumbs, salt, pepper, and rosemary.
Combine wet and dry ingredients with garbazo mixture.
Form into 4 balls and press into patties.

Lightly drizzle olive oil into a pan over medium heat.
Cook patties about 4 minutes each side, until browned.

I like to serve these on whole wheat english muffins generously topped with sliced cucumbers and a dallop of vegan sour cream.

This recipe makes 4 burgers.
Nutritional Information for 1 Mediterranean Garbanzo Burger*:
Calories: 250.0
Total Fat: 7.7 g
Saturated Fat: 0.5 g
Sodium: 700 mg
Total Carbs: 38.2 g
Dietary Fiber: 6.8 g
Sugars: 0.3 g
Protein: 10 g
*this information is for the burger alone, without the english muffin/bun, or toppings.


diy holiday gift

Over the last couple of weeks, my co-workers have been bringing cookies, banana bread, cheesecake and, well, lots of dairy filled desserts to the office. The way that everyone has been devouring these holiday treats got me thinking... what a perfect time of year to share healthy, cruelty-free goodies with non-vegans. This simple DIY gift put smiles on the faces of everyone I work with, and not just because of the pretty packaging.
I found the recipe for these perfectly crunchy and flavorful Almond-Anise Biscotti from Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero's Veganomicon. This was my first shot at biscotti, and I was so pleased with the outcome. Moskowitz and Romero provide ideas for creating other flavors too, like cranberry-pistachio and orange-chocolate chip, so I can't wait to try another yummy variation.

While browsing the isles at the fabric store, I found a package of little cellophane bags for storing decorated pretzels, which were the perfect size for wrapping up my biscotti. Most craft stores should carry something similar, especially during the holidays. I also chose some pretty holiday ribbon to finish of my project, but you can certainly use any of the ribbon you've been storing in your craft box for an occasion like this.

Once the biscotti have cooled, simply place each piece inside of a cellophane bag and twist the bags shut using a wire twist-tie. Carefully trim the ends of the twist-tie and tie a ribbon around the closure to hide wire underneath. Viola!
After my co-workers explained to me how much they enjoyed the biscotti dunked into their morning coffee or how they couldn't wait to get home before tearing into their treats in the car and loving every bite, I was so happy to know that I had given them all a chance to enjoy a simple, vegan pleasure.


tomato & roasted garlic soup

This time of year I find myself constantly craving warm comfort foods to get my mind off of the cold weather. This Tomato & Roasted Garlic Soup really does the trick, especially when you serve it with Mediterranean Olive Bread from Colleen Patrick Goudreau’s The Joy of Vegan Baking. I’m terrified of using yeast and waiting for dough to rise, so this flavorful artisan style bread packed with rosemary, sun dried tomatoes, kalamata olives, and walnuts (no yeast) is perfect for me. The flavors tie in so well with the fresh herbs in this hearty soup that one dish from this meal wouldn’t be complete without the other.
Although you can purchase already roasted garlic at the grocery store, roasting it yourself is so easy there’s really no excuse not to. Plus, the flavor is much more intense, which works perfectly for the flavor of this soup.

Roasted Garlic

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
Break off about half of your garlic bulb, leaving the cloves in your half attached to each other.
Slice off the top of the bulb so that the insides of the cloves are exposed.
Wrap the bulb in foil and drizzle with olive oil before securing the foil over the top.
Bake for 15 minutes.
Remove from oven and unwrap the top of your foil cover.
Return to the oven and bake an additional 10 minutes.

Tomato & Roasted Garlic Soup

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/3 cup Onion, chopped
Handful of Sun Dried Tomatoes
14.5 oz. can Muir Glen Fire Roasted Tomatoes
5 cloves Roasted Garlic
¾ cup Vegetable Broth
1/3 cup Fresh Basil (tightly packed), chopped
1 Tbsp Fresh Rosemary, chopped
Pinch of Sugar
Salt & Pepper to taste

In a large saucepan, sauté onion in olive oil until translucent.
Add sun dried tomatoes, canned tomatoes, roasted garlic, vegetable broth, and fresh herbs.
Using an immersion blender, carefully blend all ingredients in the saucepan.
If soup is too acidic, add a pinch of sugar to neutralize the acid.
Simmer over medium-low heat until flavors blend and soup is hot.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve topped with home-made croutons.

Home-Made Croutons

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Simply slice your favorite bread (fresh or day old) into cubes.
In a small bowl, toss bread cubes in olive oil, salt, pepper, and dry herbs. I like rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano, and basil.
Bake on a foil-lined baking sheet for about 20 minutes, periodically turning croutons so they brown evenly on all sides.
This recipe makes 2 servings.
Nutritional Information for 1 serving of Tomato & Roasted Garlic Soup**:
Calories: 140.0
Total Fat: 7 g
Saturated Fat: 1.0 g
Sodium: 800 mg
Total Carbs: 16.4 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.5 g
Sugars: 7.9 g
Protein: 2.5 g
**this information is for the soup alone, not including croutons.


baked sweet potato "fries"

This recipe creates such a simple, healthy alternative to traditional deep fried potatoes that you may need to reconsider your personal ban on french fries. Although my husband and I tend to avoid potatoes because of their low nutritional value and high starch content, sweet potatoes are actually a great source of beta carotene and have a significantly higher fiber content than your typical Russet or Yukon Gold. Not only can you feel good about the health benefits the beta carotene will provide for your eyes, your skin, and your immune system, you'll be so in love with the savory taste of these taters, you'll forget they were baked and not fried.

Baked Sweet Potato "Fries"

1 Large Sweet Potato
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sea Salt
Cayenne Pepper (optional)

Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees.
Peel and slice the sweet potato into match-stick shaped pieces.
Toss potatoes in just enough olive oil to lightly coat each piece.
Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and cayenne pepper.
Arrange in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet, taking care to leave space between each piece.
Bake for 15 minutes.
Remove baking sheet from oven and carefully turn the potatoes so that all sides can evenly brown.
*At this point you can taste a fry to check your seasoning. They'll be soft and HOT, so be careful! Sprinkle on additional salt or cayenne if need be.
Return to oven and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes.

This recipe pairs perfectly with your favorite vegan veggie-burger. We like to serve ours on whole wheat English muffins topped with avocado, cucumber, roasted peppers, spinach, and Dijon mustard. Mmm.

This recipe makes 2 servings.
Nutritional Information for 1 serving of Bakes Sweet Potato "Fries":
Calories: 110.0
Total Fat: 3.5 g
Saturated Fat: 0.5 g
Sodium: (this will vary depending on how much sea salt you use)
Total Carbs: 18.5g
Dietary Fiber: 3.0 g
Sugars: 7.5 g
Protein: 1.8g


southern style biscuits

When we moved to the South last year I expected the abundance of grits, collared greens, and black eyed peas. I was even only mildly shocked when we realized that, in Georgia, shopping carts are called buggies. Yes, buggies, as in Please park your buggy in the coral – We are not responsible for damage to vehicles caused by buggies. But above all other things southern, what I was truly unprepared for was the biscuits.

In the Midwest, conventional restaurant-style meals are often served with rolls or hot bread. Of course, when we’re cooking at home serving extra carbs like this would seem not only extravagant, but dare I say just plain dumb. I mean, does a heaping plate of carb-filled pasta really need to be accompanied by a breadstick? Really? Here in Georgia, this senseless addition to your plate is made even worse by substituting the roll or bread with a buttery, fatty biscuit. At some of the restaurants in our town, you’re even served a biscuit with your field green salad topped with tofu. Better yet, if you go out to brunch (which, as a southerner, you are expected to do weekly and wait in line for hours for your table) there are entire sections of the menu devoted to the biscuit.

Most shocking of all, my husband, who would happily survive on fruit and granola, has fallen in love with them. Clearly, most biscuits are not vegan nor healthy. So once I realized that there was no stopping this love affair, I went on a quest to find a low(er) fat, low(er) calorie, dairy free biscuit recipe that he could enjoy at home. After several batches of what arguably tasted like nothing, I finally found the basics for this tasty recipe at veganbaking.net, and gained overwhelming approval from him. I have included the nutritional info below, which you can see, does not boast any health benefits. However, if you just have to have a biscuit, this is surely a better alternative than the ones they are serving at our local restaurants.

Southern Style Biscuits

½ cup Organic Soy Milk
3 Tbs Ener-G Egg Replacer
1 Tbs Lemon Juice
1 Tbs Apple Cider Vinegar
2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 ½ tsp Baking Powder
½ tsp Baking Soda
¼ cup Canola Oil
1 Tbs Tahini
1 Tbs Sugar
1 tsp Salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a small bowl, whisk together soy milk, Ener-G powder, lemon juice and apple cider vinegar.
Let sit for about 10 minutes so the soy milk curdles.
In a medium bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, baking powder and baking soda.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the canola oil, tahini, sugar and salt.
Now whisk in the soy milk mixture.
Add the wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir to combine.
Use your hands to knead the dough on a clean, lightly floured surface for no less than 5 minutes.
Roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/2 inch.
Use a 3 inch biscuit cutter or a mug to cut the dough into circles.
Place the cut-outs on a non-stick or lightly oiled baking sheet.
Depress the center of each muffin with your thumb so they will not dome when baking.
Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Some great toppings for these little pillowy biscuits include organic fruit preserves, agave nectar, banana butter, apple butter, or Earth Balance. If your omnivore friends are around for breakfast and crazy about the animal flesh on a biscuit they usually order at brunch, there are a few varieties of veg sausage or veg bacon you can use to create little animal friendly breakfast sandwiches sure to please everyone.

This recipe makes about 10 biscuits.
Nutritional Information for 1 Southern Style Biscuit:
Calories: 150.0
Total Fat: 6.5 g
Saturated Fat: 0.5 g
Sodium: 383.0 mg
Total Carbs: 21.0g
Dietary Fiber: 1.0 g
Sugars: 1.9 g
Protein: 3.3g


garlic "cream" sauce

Although I'd love to make every meal from scratch, when we're too wiped out to make an event out of dinner we often boil some boxed pasta and serve it with vegetables and sauce. There are some good options from brands like Muir Glen and Amy's if you're looking for a vegan organic sauce at the supermarket, but making your own pasta sauce can be so simple and inexpensive that I have a hard time justifying spending $5+ on a jar of pureed tomatoes and herbs. Tomato sauce lends its self to so many easy variations that we often stick with this staple at our house. Yet, sometimes pasta night calls for something a little different, a little richer and creamier. The following recipe is so simple, you don't even need to get out the blender.

Tofutti's Better than Cream Cheese provides the perfect base for this "cream" sauce. Even big box supermarkets carry Tofutti, so you won't have to make a special trip to the health food store if you don't typically shop there. You can read about all of Tofutti's yummy, dairy-free products on their website here. The addition of nutritional yeast, onion powder, and oregano creates a completely different flavor profile that the plain Tofutti, and the soymilk makes for a perfect consistency. This sauce works really well if you're planning to add mushrooms, spinach, or asparagus to your pasta, but it's also delicious if you simply top the pasta with fresh basil.

Garlic "Cream" Sauce

2-3 Cloves of Garlic, minced
2 Tbs Tofutti Better than Cream Cheese (use the non-hydrogenated plain variety in the yellow tub)
3 Tbs Plain Light Organic Soymilk
1 tsp Nutritional Yeast
1/2 tsp Oregano
1/4 tsp Onion Powder
1/4 tsp Pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Saute garlic in olive oil for 1-2 minutes on med-low heat.
Whisk in all remaining ingredients until combined and smooth.
Heat for an additional 5 minutes.
Serve over organic whole wheat pasta and sprinkle with fresh organic basil.

This recipe makes one large serving.
Nutritional Information for Garlic "Cream" Sauce:
Calories: 118.0
Total Fat: 12.5 g
Saturated Fat: 3.0 g
Sodium: 143.0 mg
Total Carbs: 7.9g
Dietary Fiber: 1.0 g
Sugars: 1.4 g
Protein: 4.1g

easy tofu scramble

There are so many easy and delicious vegan breakfast choices like whole fruit, granola, toast, oatmeal, smoothies, etc., that preparing alternatives to eggs and other animal products is truly unnecessary. However, if you are making the transition to a vegan diet or simply craving something warm and savory in the morning, this scramble can really hit the spot.

Easy Tofu Scramble

5 oz. Organic Firm Tofu, drained and crumbled*
Handful of Your Favorite Veggies, diced**
1/2 Tbs Organic low-sodium Tamari (soy sauce)*
1 Tbs Nutritional Yeast
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp Onion Powder
pinch of Turmeric
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

*Several very toxic pesticides are used to grow conventional soybeans, so be sure to use organic tofu and tamari.
**I used onions, tomato, portobellos, and green onions, but any combination of vegetables you have on hand will work.

Add a drizzle of oil, tofu and tamari to the pan and sautee over med-high heat for 5 minutes, allowing the tofu to fully absorb the tamari and begin to brown.
Add veggies and saute for 3-5 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium.
Sprinkle on nutritional yeast, garlic powder, onion powder, and turmeric and stir to evenly coat tofu and veggies.
Continue cooking for 5 minutes.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

This recipe makes one large serving, or you could share and there would be plenty for two.
Nutritional Information for Easy Tofu Scramble***:
Calories: 225
Total Fat: 12.0 g
Saturated Fat: 1.0 g
Sodium: 300.0 mg
Total Carbs: 12.3g
Dietary Fiber: 4.4 g
Sugars: 0.9 g
Protein: 16.0g
***this information is accurate if you include the same vegetables I did.