The Blooming Platter of Vegan Recipes

Soup 2Yield: 4 to 6 servings

This rich, smoky and healthy bisque is perfect for a day like today in Eastern, Virginia: cool, rainy, and a bit dreary.  This soup will warm you from the inside out and brighten the darkest of days and nights which come so early this time of year.

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

7 ounces vegan chorizo (I use a half a package of Trader Joe’s brand)

2 large cloves garlic, minced

Optional: 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (adds richness and depth of flavor)

1 tablespoon adobo sauce froma can of chilies in adobo

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

12 ounces flavorful vegan beer (check out Barnivore for an A-Z list of vegan beer, wine and liquor)

1-15.5 ounce can pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)

1-15.5 ounce can black beans, drained

3 to 4 cups fresh baby kale

2 cups vegetable stock or broth

Juice of 1/2 medium lime

Opttional: 1/4 cup vegan cream cheese or your favorite nut cream

Toppings: fresh cilantro leaves, roasted pumpkin seeds, sliced avocado, halved grape tomatoes, vegan sour cream or more nut cream, etc.


In a large Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-high.  Add onion and saute, stirring frequently, for a couple of minutes.  Add chorizo and garlic and continue sauteeing and stirring for another couple of minutes.  Lower heat if the onion or garlic starts to scorch.  Stir in all remaining ingredients, except lime juice, until well combined and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 20 to 30 minutes to allow flavors to combine. Stir in lime juice and serve warm topped as desired.


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Creamy Italian White Bean and Spinach DipThis luscious-but-healthy dip with sea salt pita chips was a hit at a recent wine tasting (for my husbands posthumous 57th birthday party, as he, sadly, didn’t quite make it).  Afterwards, the leftovers were scrumptious as a quesadilla filling.  I topped those golden beauties with vegan sour cream, shredded purple cabbage and carrots, and fresh cilantro leaves.


8 ounces vegan cream cheese

1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise

2-15 ounce cans cannelini beans, rinsed and drained

Approximately 1 cup sauteed spinach, coarsely chopped

1/2-1 teaspoon dried oregano (or 1 tablespoon fresh, minced)

1/2-1 teaspoon rubbed sage

Zest of 1/2 lemon (good without; better with)

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Sea salt to taste

Accompaniment: pita chips or other crackers

Mash together vegan cream cheese and mayonnasie until well combine.  Add beans and coarsely mash.  Add all remaining ingredients and stir together until well combined.  Serve chilled with your favorite chip or cracker or use as a filling for quesadillas or enchiladas.

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Cauliflower Tacos--Aerial ViewYield: 6 tacos

In these addicting tacos–seriously, probably a Top 3–I put my own spin on tacos I discovered in Thug Kitchen Cookbook (thanks Dusten Keith for turning me on to this dynamic duo).

Instead of creating a braising liquid and a separate spice rub for roasting the cauliflower and onions, I created one thick marinade that serves as both, and I do actually marinate–rather than braise–the cauliflower and onions before roasting them.

In addition, the Thug Kitchen recipe calls for a cilantro slaw.  I chose instead to use shredded purple cabbage as a topping, along with cilantro and halved grape tomatoes, as build-your-own options because some folks–though it’s hard to believe–don’t care for cilantro.

For creaminess, because I do like a creamy contrast to the chewiness and crunchiness, I added my luscious Baja Sauce, a slightly adapted verison of the sauce that accompanies my Baja Tacos in  The Blooming Platter Cookbook.  This sauce is such a perfect balance of flavors that I like a little both under and over the layers of ingredients in these beauties.


Beer, Lime, Chipotle-Roasted Cauliflower (recipe follows)

Baja Sauce (recipe follows)

8-6 to 8-inch whole wheat tortillas at room temperature, wrapped in foil and heated during last 5 minutes of cauliflower roasting


Shredded purple cabbage

Halved grape tomatoes (I like tri-color)

Fresh cilantro leaves

Roasted and lightly salted pumpkin seeds

Lime wedges

(I am allergic to avocado, but if you’re not, by all means!)

To serve, allow diners to build their own tacos.  I like to start with a thin layer of Baja Sauce on a warmed tortilla followed by the roasted cauliflower adn onion, cabbage, grape tomato halves, fresh cilantro leaves, a little more Baja Sauce, and a few roasted pumpkin seeds with a lime wedge on the side for squeezing.

About 1 1 /2 hours before you plan to serve the tacos, prepare cauliflower.
Beer, Lime, Chipotle-Roasted Cauliflower:

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons medium-dark, flavorful beer

Juice of 1 small-medium lime

2 to 3 tablespoons Adobo Sauce from a can of Chilies in Adobo

2 to 3 teaspoons maple syrup

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon coriander

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

½ teaspoon sea salt or to taste

1 head cauliflower (I like to use the golden yellow variety), trimmed and broken into florets no larger than a grape

1 medium onion, quartered, and sliced into 1/4-inch wide slivers

In a large microwave-safe bowl, whisk together all ingredients.  Add cauliflower and onion and toss well to coat.  *Heat for 1 ½ minutes on high in microwave, toss again, and let marinate for about an hour at room temperature.  After about 50 minutes, preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Toss cauliflower again, drain off any excess liquid (reserve for another use if desired), spread cauliflower and onion in an oiled roasting pan, and roast for about 20 minutes or until tender and beginning to caramelize, stirring once or twice during roasting process.  About 5 minutes before cauliflower is finished, place foil-wrapped tortillas in oven to heat through.

*While cauliflower marinates, make Baja Sauce.

Baja Sauce:

1/2 cup vegan sour cream (or your favorite nut-based “crema”)

1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise

Juice of 1/2 small lime

1 heaping tablespoon capers, drained and roughly chopped

1 teaspoon Dijon or stone ground prepared mustard

½ teaspoon cumin

2 teaspoon dried oregano (preferably the Mexican variety)

1/3 cup fresh dill weed, finely chopped (or 1 heaping tablespoon dried dill week, not seed)

Optional but delicious: 1 tablespoon chimichurri

In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients until well-combined.  Chill, covered, until serving time.

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Smoky Roasted Pumpkin Seeds with Nutritional Yeast, Dried Orange Zest and SeaweedYield: 2 pounds nuts

This flavor combination is a nod to by my beloved Hurricane Popcorn, which was inspired by the Hawaiian mainstay.


1/4 cup vegan butter (you can subsitute olive oil, but the flavor won’t be as rich)

2 pounds raw pumpkin seeds (I purchase two 1 pound bags from Trader Joe’s)

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1 teaspoon Nori powder or dulce flakes (to make Nori powder, break up and process a Nori sheet in a spice grinder)

1 teaspoon onion powder (or garlic powder for a slightly different, but equally delicious, flavor)

1 teaspoon dried minced orange zest (I purchase it prepared on the spice aisle)

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon sea salt or to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Melt butter in oven in 9 x 13″ roasting pan.  Remove from oven and add all ingredients, sprinkling dry ingredients over the whole surface, and stirring to evenly coat seeds with butter and other ingredients.  Roast for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from oven, cool in pan on a wire rack, and package in airtight containers.

These nuts will make a tasty and highly sought after holiday gift from your kitchen…if you don’t eat them all first!

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Barbara's Chocolate TartYield: 8 to 12 servings (it is decadent and rich, so a thin sliver may do the trick)


This recipe began its life as No Bake Chocolate Cake (which is really more of a terrine) at 101 Cookbooks.

But, my enterprising friend, Barbara Gelpi, simply poured the mixture into a crumb crust–homemade or purchased, plain or chocolate–and voila!: the densest, richest, most delectable tart imaginable with not a bit of tofu in sight.

Though I happen to love tofu, the absence of it removes all the soy, to which some folks are averse, while also removing the need for a food processor.  Considering that my new dog Patsy “retrieved” the blade from the counter where it was draining and ruined it by chewing up the plastic part only–thank goodness–that is a good thing.

Barbara and her husband, Juan, joined me in the preparation of a delectable vegan Moroccan meal last night, so Barbara’s addition of a pistachio garnish was perfectly fitting and tasty, and the green was such a pretty contrast with the warm reddish-brown of the chocolate.  But use any nut you like or no nuts at all.

This tart is sure to become a staple and all of your friends will ask you to bring it when they invite you for dinner.  Heck, they may invite you to dinner just so you’ll bring the tart!

8 ounces vegan chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)

1 cup almond milk

1/2 teaspoon allspice, cinnamon, chili powder, etc.

2 teaspoons espresso

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 crumb pie crust

Optional topping: 1/4 cup coarsely chopped pistachios or your favorite nut

Melt the chocolate on the stovetop or in the microwave.  Heat the milk with the spice of your choice, the espresso, and the salt just bubbling.  Whisk the chocolate into the milk.  Allow to cool and thicken a bit, and then pour into crust.  Sprinkle with nuts,  and chill a couple of hours or until cold throughout and set.  It should be firm enough to slice beautifully.  Note: to make peanut butter version, melt 2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter with chocolate and sprinkle top with coarsely chopped peanuts.

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Layered Fudge and Pumpkin Brownies--horizontalYield: 1-8×8″ pan of brownies

These are the perfect fall treat: chocolate always understands and pumpkin is just the perfect personification of everything appealing about autumn.


Brownie Layer:

1 box or bag of brownie mix that calls for only 1 egg, and contains no dairy products in the mix (I use Marie Callender’s “Restaurant Style” 10-0unce Chocolate Fudge Brownie Mix, sold locally at our Dollar Tree)

1/4 cup vegetable oil

3 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon espresso powder or instant coffee

1/4 cup canned pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda


Pumpkin Cheesecake Layer:

3/4 cup canned pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)

4 ounces (1/2 cup) vegan cream cheese

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup flour

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (or pumpkin pie spice)

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon sea salt


Ganache Layer:

1/2 cup non-dairy creamer (like soy or coconut)

4 to 5 ounces vegan chocolate chips

Spray a metal 8 x 8-inch baking pan with non-stick spray.  (Optionall: cut a 3-inch wide strip of parchment paper long enough for ends to overhang sides of pan, press into bottom and up and over sides, and spray again with non stick spray.)  Make brownie layer: in a medium bowl, whisk together all ingredients until well-combined and then whisk for 50 strokes.  Spread evenly into prepared pan.  Make pumpkin layer:  place all ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary.  Gently smooth pumpkin mixture over the top of the brownie layer, spreading to cover.  Using a skewer or a knive, make narrow zig-zag lines through both layers from side to side, turn pan one-quarter turn, and repeat to make perpendicular lines.  Bake for 25 minutes or until brownies are set and no longer glossy on top.  Cool completely on a wire rack.  In the meantime, make ganache: heat creamer in microwave or a saucepan until very hot or just begining to bubble (about 1 minute or so in microwave).  Whisk in chocolate until melted.  Allow to rest at room temperature while brownies cool; mixture will thicken as it cools (speed process by refrigerating for a few minutes, if desired).  Gently pour and spread ganache over pumpkin layer of brownies.  Refrigerate for a couple of hours or until set before slicing and serving.




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Yield: 1 dozen muffins

Pumpkin-Apple Spice Muffins

My apologies for yet another hiatus…this one precipitated by the death of my adored mother, Sallie Gough–who inspired my love of cooking, art, and much more–on October 2.  But I’m back and, hopefully, facing at least a year of no major losses. Yet and still, I live in a perpetual state of grace and gratefulness for the last two months of so many gestures of love and compassion that I couldn’t pay them back in two lifetimes.

In fact, I created these muffins for my nextdoor neighbor, Sonny–who has been helping me out, especially with the new dogs, since Joe passed away–and his darling daughter the young soccer star.  He came over this morning with his coffee and visited with me while I sipped tea and unloaded the dish washer, leaving with the muffins to waft under the nose of his adolescent daughter who loves to sleep in, especially on chilly fall mornings.  They were a hit.

The love child of my vegan  Sweet Potato and Pumpkin Butter Muffins and my Peanut Butter and Apple Muffins, this recipe makes the most of two of my favorite autumnal ingredients that I happened to have on hand: pumpkin puree and fresh local apples.  Enjoy with a cup of hot tea or glass of cold soymilk.

1/2 cup canned pureed pumpkin

1/2 cup canola oil

1/2 cup unsweetened soymilk (you can use plain, but you might want to slightly decrease the sugar)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup demeraral sugar

2 cups white whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Pinch ground allspice

Pinch ground cinnamon

Pinch ground cloves

2 medium apples, skin on, finely grated finely grated or chopped (fine like food processor-fine)

Line muffin cups with papers or oil well with nonstick spray.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk together pumpkin , canola oil, soy milk and vanilla until well combined.  Whisk in sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt just until a smooth, thick batter forms.  Then stir in grated apples only until incorporated.  The moisture from the apples will loosen the batter a bit.  Divide evenly among prepared muffin cups and bake for 20 to 23 minute or until a toothpick inserted in the center of one comes out clean.  Allow to cool about 10 minutes in the pan and then remove to cool completely or to enjoy while warm.

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Photo: Alisa Fleming

Photo: Alisa Fleming

And the winner is…me!

So Delcious and Go Dairy Free just announced the winners of their “Snackables” national (vegan) recipe contest and my Thai Biscuit Mini Sandwiches won the Grand Prize in the “Savory” category!  These are the perfect mini-meal, packed with flavor and nutrition and cute to boot.

This award is such an honor because I know of their high standards and rigorous vetting process.

Congrats to all winners and runner’s up!  And a huge thanks to So Delicous and Alisa Fleming of Go Dairy Free!


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Pumpkin, Kale, and Cannelini Bean BisqueYield: 4 to 6 servings

Contrary to my best intentions, I am not posting as much as I’d hoped since my husband passed away–suddenly and unexpectedly–on July 30…

…but I hope when I do, the recipes are worth waiting for.

As those of you who have experienced a loss such as this know, it’s a game-changer.  And, while we basically understand the rules of the game, we don’t know–and can’t necessarily anticipate–how they will play out, both in positive and negative ways.

I knew I would be busy with schoo, once it started on September 8, and my freelance work.  But, add to the mix a pair of 8 1/2 month old puppies (my dear, dear Minnie passed away less than a month after Joe); the administration of Joe’s estate; and a fuller, more diverse, and less predictable social life than I was accustomed to (I’m “trending,” don’t you know–ha!), and time has a way of ticking past, albeit in very meaningful ways, though sometimes with a steep learning curve.

However, I deeply value this blog and the opportunity to, not only share recipes with all of you but to connect with you arouond food, so I hope you will forgive me the infrequency of posts as I figure out how to achieve balance.

Speaking of that less predictable social life…last night, I served this impromptu soup–inspired by a recipe in my latest Southern Living Magazine (worth the subscription just to read Rick Bragg’s “Southern Journal” essay in the back of each issue)–to two girlfriends, one of whom brought her guitar, played a mini-concert in my breakfast room, and spent the night.  What a beautiful, beautiful gift.  This woman’s spirit is infused with magic.

The soup was a hit.  So, as the weather begins to turn colder, nourish body, mind, and soul with a cup of this nutritious deliciousness.  On the side, I like to serve a rice cake topped with one of my vegan cheese spreads (search this website for lots of tastt options) and a dab of my friend Rich’s chimichurri.  It’s the perfect mini-meal and, remember, I have proclaimed this the Year of the Mini-Meal.


1 tablespoon olive oil

1 yellow onion, diced

1/8th teaspoon salt + more to taste

2 large gloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon sugar (I use demerara)

1/2 teaspoon onion powder (I love its sweetness)

1/2 teaspoon coriander

3/4 teaspoon ground cumin

3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

1-15 ounce can pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)

4 1/2 cups vegetable broth or stock (I use one called a “no-chicken” broth that tastes richer to me) OR 4 1/4 cups vegetable broth and 1/4 cup red wine

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

2 to 3 cups chopped fresh kale

1-15.5 ounce can rinsed and drained cannelini beans

Optional garnish: dollops of vegan sour cream or crema

In a 4 quart soup pot, heat olive oil over medium high.  Add onion and salt and saute, stirring, for about 2 to 3 minutes or until softened and beginning to show color around the edges.  Add garlic and sugar and saute, stirring, until nicely caramelized.  (This only takes a few minutes because of sugar.)  Stir in spices, followed by pumpkin, and slowly stir in liquid and nutritional yeast.  Add kale, a handful at a time, and let it begin to wilt before adding the next handful.  Stir in beans and heat through, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes.  Lower heat if necessary.  Taste and adjust seasoning, as you might choose to add more salt–since pumpkin is naturally sweet–cumin, and smoked paprika.  Serve topped with vegan sour cream or crema.






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Pasta with Corn Cream SauceYield: 4 servings

Ever since my husband suddenly passed away on July 30, friends have thought of the loveliest ways to nurture me, mind, body and soul.

Janie Jacobson Craig, known for her healthy cooking classes once taught out of the Kitchen Barn and now out of her stylish contemporary beach home, wanted me to join her to make this cleaned-up carbonara using corn cream.

I was intrigued, but I asked her if she would come to our house because leaving home some days made me feel untethered in an unplesant way.  So, she loaded up her basket with the ingredients and over she came.

The idea for the “cream” is a sensation; thank you Tim Maslow!  As for the rest of the recipe, which called for bacon and crab, we substituted vegan bacon and pinenuts for their pale color and sweetness.  To suggest a briny hint of the sea, we chose a sprinkling of dulce flakes.

I will definitely be makign this easy, elegant dish again and I hope you will.

1 pound pasta (we used a quinoa variety from Whole Foods)

7 ears corn, uncooked

2 tablespoons vegan butter

1/4 pound vegan bacon, chopped and cooked or crisped according to package directions; set aside

2 shallots, minced

2 large cloves garlic, sliced

1 tablespoon lemon juice + zest of 1 lemon

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Olive oil

1/2 pound pine nuts

approximately 2 teaspoons dulce flakes

In a large stock pot over medium high, heat generously salted water to boiling.  Add pasta, return to a gently boil, lower heat, partially cover, and cook until al dente (time will vary depending on the type of pasta).  Drain, reserving 2 cups of pasta water.

Meanwhile, make sauce.  Slice kernels from cobs and place in a food processor.  Run the blade of the knife along the cob over the food processor bowl to remove any remaining milk.  Process corn until smooth and then pass through a seive, pressing on solids. Reserve cream and save pulp for another use.  In a large cast iron skillet over medium-high, melt butter.  Add shallot and saute, stirring, for a couple of minutes or until softened.  Add garlic and continue sauteeing and stirring for another 30 seconds.  Add cooked pasta, corn “cream,” 1 1/4 cups water, and lemon juice.  Cook 3 to 5 minutes or until creamy and thickened.  Add more of the pasta water if necessary to reach the desired consistency.  Fold in vegan bacon and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve lightly drizzled with olive oil and garnished with pine nuts, lemon zest and dulce flakes.


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