Vegan Buffalo Wings with Creamy Blue “Cheez” Sauce and Celery Sticks–My Annual Super Bowl Post

(Vegan) Buffalo Wings and the Super Bowl go together like Katy Perry and Lenny Kravitz!

I wouldn’t touch chicken wings many years ago when I ate chicken, but my vegan version is a slam dunk…hmmm, wrong metaphor. But you know what I mean.

Find my delicious recipe here and may the Seattle Seahawks, er, I mean, may the best team win.


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Vegan No-Chicken Salad with Tomatoes, Basil, and Smoked Almonds

No-Chicken Salad with Tomatoes, Basil, and Smoked Almonds

Yield: 4 servings

I have created quite a few no-chicken salad recipes from seitan, tempeh, and textured vegetable protein.  (To find them, just search “chicken salad” here on The Blooming Platter or consult the index of TBP cookbook.)

This tempeh version, made with two of the glories of summer–tomatoes and basil–is made even more addicting with the addition of smoky and crunchy almonds plus a little celery.

There is something about the saltiness of the almonds playing off the sweetness of the tomatoes with a hint of that herby freshness from the basil that is utter perfection.  Every rendition I create becomes my new favorite so, for now, this no-chicken salad is my “favorite.”  I think it is destined to become a classic and hope you agree!

(I am participating in Virtual Vegan “Linky” Potluck  with this recipe.  Follow the link to discover other tasty potluck contributions.)


1-8 ounce package tempeh, cut into 8 pieces, lightly oiled and salted,  baked for 15 minutes at 350 degrees, and slightly cooled

1/2 cup smoked almonds

4 stalks celery, cut into 2-inch pieces

1/2 cup quartered grape tomatoes

2 tablespoons chopped basil or chiffonade (stack leaves, roll, and slice very thinly)

1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise

Sea salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste


Crumble tempeh into a medium bowl.  Process smoked almonds and celery until finely chopped and add to tempeh along with remaining ingredients.  Toss all together and refrigerate to allow salad to chill and flavors to marry. Serve as you would any such salad, though I like it especially well scooped up with veggie chips.

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Vegan “No-Chicken” Salad with Green Grapes and Toasted Pecans

Chicken Salad with TVP, Grapes and PecansI grew up in the Deep South where a tasty chicken salad is a staple in every cook’s recipe files.  I haven’t eaten chicken for many years, but I still love the combination of flavors, so you will find quite a few vegan renditions here on The Blooming Platter (just enter “chicken salad” in the search box).

This version was inpired by a luscious one I saw Ina Garten prepare on “The Barefoot Contessa.”  I substituted textured vegetable protein (TVP) for the chicken–though all of my other recipes call for seitan–as that’s what I had on hand.

I loved both the flavor and texture and know you will too!

TVP got a bad rap when I was in school; we regularly mocked the “hamburger” patties made with TVP, a meat substitute and extender, favored by high-volume cooks for it’s low cost, high protein content, versatility and long shelf life.  Little did I know back then that I would grow up to seek out TVP and sing its praises!

2 cups coarse TVP (textured vegetable protein)

2 cups water

1 bouillon cube

1 bay leaf, torn in half

1 teaspoon rubbed sage

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Sea salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper

1 cup finely chopped celery (I use a food processor for this task)

1 cup lightly salted toasted chopped pecans (toast with a sprinkle of sea salt at 350 degrees in a single layer for 5-7 minutes or until slightly more golden brown and toasted in flavor)

1 1/2 cups green grapes, halved (or quartered, your preference)

3/4 cup vegan mayo (more or less to suit your preference)

In a 2-quart (medium) saucepan, bring water, bouillon cube, halved bay leave, sage, thyme, garlic powder, and sea salt together.  Stir in TVP and simmer, stirring frequently, until moisture is absored, or about 5 minutes (it goes very quickly).  Season with black pepper.  Check for seasoning and adjust if necessary.  Transfer to a medium size mixing bowl, add remaining ingredients, and stir gently until completely combined.  Use as you would any chicken salad.  I love it atop cucumber slices or crackers, or in a sandwich or wrap.

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Vegan Tempeh Salad with Grapes and Smoked Almonds

Tempeh-Salad-as-Soft-TacoThis salad from The Blooming Platter Cookbook is a personal favorite and drew raves at a recent cooking demonstration I was invited to give for a group of women fairly new to veganism  who wanted to know more about cooking with some of the vegan proteins, like tempeh and seitan.  I knew you will love it too!

Grapes add color, moisture, and natural sweetness to this hearty salad, while nuts add depth of flavor, crunch, and nutrition. In addition to being terrific in a whole grain sandwich, the filling is also great with crackers, celery sticks, or in a lettuce wrap. Some people prefer to steam their tempeh before using in recipes to mellow the flavor – this recipe allows for that option.

And as you can see in the top photo, this salad also makes a delectable soft taco or, at bottom, a scoop of deliciousness on a bed of super-greens.
Yield: 4 servings
16 ounces tempeh
Sea salt
1 cup green seedless grapes, quartered
1/2 cup smoked almonds, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 tablespoons minced dill
6 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Freshly ground black pepper
8 slices whole grain bread

1. Preheat the broiler. Steam the tempeh for 10 minutes, if desired. Season both sides of the tempeh with salt and broil 2 to 3 minutes per side. Set aside until cool enough to handle.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the grapes, almonds, celery, dill, mayo, maple syrup, garlic powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Crumble the tempeh and add it to the bowl and combine gently with a fork to mix well. Taste and adjust the seasonings,
if needed.
3. To serve, divide the mixture onto four slices of the bread, top each with another slice of bread, cut each sandwich in half and serve.

Variation:  Make the recipe above with these substitutions: red grapes for green grapes; toasted walnuts for smoked almonds; orange bell pepper for celery; tarragon for dill.




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Get Your Super Bowl On with A Platter of Vegan Buffalo Wings with Creamy Blue “Cheez” Dressing and Celery Sticks

I created this recipe in 2009 and have posted it for the Super Bowl each year since.  With their creamy blue “cheez” dressing and fresh, crunchy celery sticks, no one need miss out on this all-time sports bar favorite.  So roll up your sleeves, grab a stack of napkins, and enjoy the authentic taste of my spicy wings.


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Five-Ingredient Vegan Chicken Salad (a la Yorgo’s Bageldashery in Norfolk, VA)

Yorgo's Chicken SaladOur schools just started last week and it’s going to be a super year!

As a teacher, my culinary mind has turned to healthy, tasty, quick treats I can pack for satisfying mini-meals throughout the day.

I live in VA Beach, next door to Norfolk, VA, where you can regularly find me “Jonesin” for Yorgo’s Bageldashery’s vegan chicken salad (Yorgo’s has a VERY vegan friendly menu).  I try to pick up a carton when I “cross the border” for some other reason, but the deli closes at 2 p.m., so I can only make it on the weekends during the school year.  And I have been known to drive to Norfok just for the chicken salad.  I know, it’s a shameless waste of gas.  But I drive a Prius…does that make it almost okay?

At any rate, I have tried–unsuccessfully–in the past to duplicate their vegan chicken salad.  But, I tried again and I do believe I got it!

In addition to the taste, the texture is divine.  It’s almost a spread, but not quite.  It’s more like a very fine mince bound together with a creamy vegan mayo.  Pulsing the ingredients in the food processor a few times after each addition did the trick.   But, from past experiments, I knew that using all mayo overpowered the other flavors, so keep reading to learn my secret.  And, finally, I also realized that I was trying to add too many additional flavors.  Keeping it VERY simple was the key.

3 celery hearts, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces

3 green onions, white and green part, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces

1-8 ounce package Morningstar Farms Meal Starters Chick’n Strips (or 1/2 pound purchased or homemade chicken-flavored seitan, cut into thin strips or chunks)

3 tablespoons vegan sour cream

1 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise, purchased or homemade (I like a neutral tasting mayo like Vegenaise for this)

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Optional: for a Vegan Dill Chicken Salad, add 1/2 teaspoon of dried dill weed or, in the summer, 1 tablespoon of fresh minced dill and stir to evenly distribute.

Place celery in food processor and pulse a few times until finely chopped.  Add green onions, and process until very finely chopped.  Add vegan Chick’n Strips or seitan, and process until chicken is finely chopped.  (Other ingredients will be minced at this point.)  Add mayo and  pulse a very few times, just until combined.  Throughout the process, scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary for uniform chopping.  Transfer to a serving bowl or storage carton and stir in salt and pepper to taste.  Stir in dill weed or fresh dill if desired. Serve as you would any other chicken salad or cover and refrigerate until serving time.  Because of both its taste and texture, this chicken salad is especially well-suited to spreading on a cracker, a toasted “everything” bagel or rolled in fresh spinach leaves to create healthy little wraps.

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Vegan Brazilian “Chicken,” Cauliflower, Peanut, Cashew & Coconut Milk Stew (Xim Xim de Galinha)

DSCN1204Yield: 6-8 servings

Shame on me…to my knowledge, I have never eaten, much less cooked authentic Brazilian cuisine.  I don’t even know why, as I am naturally curious about all cuisines.
However, recently, my beloved cousin and hiking buddy has had to spend a lot of time in Brazil for work.  So, on a recent Sunday morning, when I was flipping the TV channels around and trying to wake up, an episode of Sara Moulton’s “Weeknight Meals” caught my attention, as her featured guest was Leticia Moreinos Schwartz, a Brazlian chef and cookbook author.  Their theme was “A Trip to Brazil.”
The food they prepared was hardly vegan, but a chicken and shrimp stew called, Xim Xim de Galinha caught my eye;  it  looked mouthwatering and seemed easy to veganize.  It was!  I think it was the ground cashews and peanuts plus the coconut milk that captured my fancy, as I am a sucker for any recipe featuring nuts and coconut milk.  This one held particular appeal because it was different than the Thai and Indian dishes I love to prepare.
If recipe derivation interests you, here are the main alterations that I made to Moreinos Schwartz’s recipe (if you could care less, just click HERE now!):
  1.  Substituted cauliflower florets for shrimp and thawed Morningstar Farms “Meal Starters” Chick’n Strips for Chicken (seasoned seitan would be a fine substitute).  HOWEVER, so that I didn’t have part of a head of cauliflower around, I basically reversed the amount of shrimp and chicken, using only 1/2 pound of faux chicken (that is how it is packaged) and a 3 to 4 pound head of cauliflower (which is an average size head).
  2. I didn’t pat the cauliflower dry as the recipe says to do with the chicken, so I ended up needing to cook it 8 minutes (instead of 6) in order for it to brown nicely.
  3. I used lightly salted instead of unsalted nuts (and still added salt).
  4. I don’t cook with tomato paste much, so instead of using fresh tomatoes, which aren’t in season, and the paste, I just used a can of organic fire roasted diced tomatoes in place of both, which was exactly the 1 1/2 cups called for.
  5. I substituted faux chicken stock for chicken stock.
  6. Because I couldn’t find dende oil here (and the shipping cost to mail order a bottle was exorbitant), which supposedly has a fabulously indescribable taste and orange color, I quadrupled the amount of turmeric and paprika (I used smoked paprika) specified in the recipe for a total of 1 teaspoon turmeric and 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika.

Thanks to Alisa Fleming and Go Dairy Free for publishing my “Vegan Brazilian ‘Chicken,’ Cauliflower, Peanut, Cashew & Coconut Milk Stew” on her popular website!

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Vegan Potato Chip-Encrusted Baked “Chicken” Salad Sandwich–Think Vegan Chicken Casserole in Sandwich Form

Potato Chip-Crusted Chicken Salad SandwichesYield: 8 sandwich halves

You can take the girl out of the Deep South, but you can’t take the Deep South out of the girl…

This crunchy-creamy cleaned-up community cookbook classic is a delectable vegan chicken casserole in sandwich form It telescopes me right back to my teen years in Mississippi where my dear Mama’s culinary curiosity–though a different style than mine and not vegan–inspired my love of the kitchen while producing some seriously good eats like this sandwich that is as pretty as it is yummy.

For the recipe and more of the back story, click HERE to visit One Green Planet, who generously published it just this week!

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VegNews Magazine Publishes Blooming Platter Vegan Steamed Tamale Pie in Their Online “Recipe Club” e-Newsletter (Tastes Like Tamales, Not Like Cornbread-Topped Chili)!

Tamale Pie--VegNews--Recipe Club--May 2013Yield: 8 servings

This month, the award-winning VegNews magazine published my Vegan Steamed Tamale Pie in their online “Recipe Club” e-newsletter.  (To receive your own issue, just go to the VegNews home page to sign-up for this free e-publication so you don’t miss anything!)

[Note: Skip to the bottom of this post for my recipe if you aren’t interested in the back story!]

I adore vegan tamales, but they are a bit time-consuming, so I remembered that I had heard of “tamale pie.”  However, all of the recipes I found  online consisted of a filling topped with what amounts to a layer of baked cornbread. That sounded fine, but not what I was after.

Wanting a consistency more like true steamed tamales, I wondered if the “pie” couldn’t be baked in a bain marie (water bath), tightly covered with foil so that it would steam.  I did a little more research and found a non-vegan (pork) recipe made in this way.

My filling went together in a snap as I ad-libbed with onions, bell peppers, garlic, spices, black beans, fire-roasted tomatoes, diced green chilies, fresh spinach, faux “chicken” (the first time) and spaghetti squash (the second time), cilantro, and lime zest.

However, it took me three tries to get the masa dough the correct consistency.  The first two times, I tried it with cornmeal and ended up with 1) a-way-too-sturdy-and-dense top layer, and 2) something that had the unappealing texture of wet sand.  For the third, final, and successful attempt, I stopped by a local tienda and purchased masa harina for tamales.  The flavor, not to mention the texture, was VASTLY superior.  Delicious and quite revolutionary in the tamale pie world!

I think the finished dish was well worth the effort of experimentation and trust you will agree!

But first: No sooner had the recipe been published in “Recipe Club,” than Brandy, one of the readers, made it and posted a photo of it here on the VegNews Facebook page.  What a lovely job she did!

Vegan Steamed Tamale Pie

For the masa layer:

2 cups masa harina (Do NOT substitute cornmeal!  Masa harina is widely available at Latin markets or tiendas and some grocery stores.)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup canola oil

2 cups warm “no-chicken” or “veggie” broth

In a medium bowl, whisk together all ingredients until well-combined.  The mixture should be the consistency of a soft cookie dough.  Cover, and set the masa aside while you prepare the filling.  Whisk the masa well just before using if necessary.


For the filling:DSCN0812

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small onion, diced

Pinch sea salt

1/2 large orange bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and diced (red or yellow bell pepper would be nice too)

2 large cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon Ancho chili powder (substitute chipotle if you prefer some heat)

1 teaspoon dried oregano (Mexican, if available)

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1-15.5 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained

1-14.5 ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes, including juice

1-4 ounce can diced green chilies, including juice

1/2 pound “chicken”-flavored seitan (I used an 8 ounce package Morning Star Farms Meal Starters Chick-n Strips, cut into bite-size pieces) OR 2 cups cooked spaghetti squash (halve lengthwise, scrape out seeds and pulp, microwave for 8 minutes, flesh side down, and scrape out spaghetti-like “threads” with a fork)

4 cups lightly packed fresh raw baby spinach

1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro

Zest of one-half of a medium lime

For the Garnish: vegan sour cream and fresh cilantro sprigs, toasted pumpkin seeds, and/or a lime wedge.

Place a large pan like a turkey roaster or baking dish larger than 9 x 13″ on the middle rack of oven.  Fill with two inches of water and preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease an 8- or 9-inch square baking dish (or two 5 x 8″ loaf pans) and set aside.  Meanwhile make filling.

In a large cast iron skillet or Dutch oven, heat the tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high.  Add the onion, bell pepper, and a pinch of salt, and saute about 3 minutes, stirring frequently, or until vegetables are softened and beginning to develop some color.  Add the garlic and saute about 30 seconds to one minute.  Add all of the spices and stir well to incorporate, lowering the heat if necessary.  Then add the beans, tomatoes, green chilies, and seitan or spaghetti squash, stirring to incorporate.   Add the spinach in two parts, allowing each to wilt slightly before continuing.  Then stir in the cilantro and lime zest, and remove from heat.

Softly crumble half of the masa into the bottom of the prepared baking dish, gently pressing with your fingers to cover.  Spoon the filling evenly over the masa and then softly crumble the remaining masa over the top, again gently pressing to cover the filling and seal to the edges.  Cover tightly with foil.  Slide oven rack out, place covered baking dish into the water bath, and then cover the water bath with more foil, sealing tightly, but being careful not to burn yourself.  Slide the rack back in and bake/steam for 45 minutes.  (Note: if using loaf pans, follow these instructions, but use one-fourth of the masa mixture for the tops and bottoms of each pan.)

Slide the rack back out, uncover the water bath and carefully remove the tamale pie.  Uncover the pie and allow it to cool for 10 to 15 minutes so that it is easy to cut into squares.  Be sure to do this immediately upon removing the pies from the oven or they will continue to cook.

Serve dolloped with vegan sour cream and the garnish(es) of  your choice.

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