Vegan Dog Bone Sugar Cookies…for Humans

Yield:  approximately 25 cookies

Yesterday  morning, a TV crew from WVEC Channel 13 came to our house to interview “Team Huff”:  all of the good folks, including our Great Dane, Huff, responsible for “Man’s Best Friend” becoming a Top Five Finalist in the “Doritos Crash the Superbowl” commercial competition!  (Click on the link to watch the commercial, the blooper ad reel, see the Huff Pics of the Day and VOTE to put them in a Top Two slot which will mean the commercial will be aired on the Superbowl!)

I wanted to serve everyone a little something, though I knew no one would want food stuck in their teeth on camera.  My pal and vegan cookbook author extraordinaire, Bryanna Clark Grogran, recommended sugar cookies in the shape of dog bones.  Perfect!

Since my Blooming Platter Cookbook focuses on seasonal ingredients, there are no plain sugar cookies in it.  However, I have a vegan sugar cookie recipe that is very good, but calls for vegan cream cheese.  That’s not a problem except that I had little time and wanted something as streamlined as possible.  An online search turned up a recipe from The Decorated Cookie blog.  It was terrific and I recommend it highly!  Just click on the link for the easy and tasty recipe.  I wanted my cookies to suggest dog treats so I didn’t ice them, but the frosting recipe looks like a winner too.

Here’s a quick helpful tip: I was completely out of powdered sugar.  I knew a substitution could be made from granulated sugar and cornstarch so I searched on line for the proportions.  Finding two different ones, I split the difference, using 1 cup natural sugar to 2 teaspoons of cornstarch.  I simply blended the mixture it in the blender to make a find powder.  (The directions I read said that a food processor wouldn’t work, so I didn’t experiment.)  The result was just right.  Be sure to scrape down the sides and blend a few times or granulated sugar will remain at the bottom of the blender.

As it turned out, everyone was too busy to eat while the taping transpired, but our guests were happy to take doggy bags of cookies with them.

Many thanks to The Decorated Cookie!




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A Flood of Storm Preparedness Tips and Recipes in Vegan Unplugged

I hope this recommendation isn’t too late for those of you who, like us in Southeastern, VA, are staring down Hurricane Irene.  However, this book is good to have on hand year-round for all kinds of disasters.

Vegan Unplugged is a manual/cookbook, written by Jon Robertson, with recipes by his wife, well-known vegan cookbook author, Robin.  It is an indispensable resource for folks who want to eat well when the lights go out!

There are loads of indispensable general tips in addition to meat- and dairy-free gourmet “pantry cuisine” recipes based on the ingenious “Five Day Meal Box” complete with a shopping list and a photo of how to pack it all in.

With this handy, helpful and very readable guide, you can treat yourself to upscale dining when the power lines are down!

Be safe!

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And The Blooming Platter Winner of American Vegan Kitchen Cookbook Is…


Using, Babs’ number came up, literally.

I’ve mentioned this site in relation to other give-aways, but if you aren’t familiar with it, I’d love to tell you about it.  You simply go to the site and on the right hand side is a “True Random Number Generator” where you enter the beginning and ending numbers, in this case 1 and 28.  I simply assigned a number to each comment, beginning with the first received.  Then you click “Generate,” and up pops your randomly generated number.  In this case it happened to be #14, right in the middle.

Thanks to ALL of you who entered.  You are certainly one healthy comfort food-eating group of folks!  I didn’t reply to your comments individually, as that would have added comments and thrown off the random numbering, but I read and appreciate every one.

If you would be so kind, please share my website with all of your like-minded friends.  I post new recipes weekly–sometimes daily, especially in the summer–and, of course, offer give-aways from time to time.

Oh, and please remember my cookbook, The Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes, as well.  Of course, I’d be thrilled for you to purchase it.  But times are tough.  So, I’d love for you to request it at your local library as well.


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Vegan Lima Bean Puree with Heirloom Tomato Sauce Rustica

Yield: 4-6 servings

Like so many of my recipes, this one was inspired by a visit to Stoney’s market, my go-to farm market, as it’s the closest to our home, the staff is very friendly and the atmosphere appealing, it’s open every day, and the produce, mostly grown across the street, is beautiful and delicious.

I purchased a bag of shelled Lima beans, but I just couldn’t get excited about eating them whole.  So I thought of a puree, but the mild creaminess of the beans would need something to brighten them up in terms of color and flavor.  For flavor, lemon zest and a little tarragon did the trick.  For color–since red and green are complementary on the artist’s color wheel–a rustic heirloom tomato sauce seemed the perfect pairing.  The end result is as pretty as a picture.

Lima Bean Puree:

1 1/4 pounds of shelled fresh beans (not dried), rinsed and drained

2 generous teaspoons powdered veggie base or bouillon cubes

Pinch sea salt

1/3-1/2 cup water in which beans were cooked

1 large clove garlic

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon dried tarragon or 1 tablespoon fresh minced

Zest of 1 large lemon

Freshly ground black pepper

Place beans in a 2-quart saucepan and barely cover with water.  Add veggie base and salt.  Loosely cover and place over medium-high heat.  When simmering, reduce heat to a low simmer and cook 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Drain beans reserving 1/2 cup liquid (and the remainder for another purpose).  In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade process beans with 1/3-1/2 cup reserved liquid, salt,  garlic, and olive oil until smooth.  Add tarragon and lemon zest and pulse a few times.  Check for seasoning and adjust with additional sea salt, if needed, and black pepper.  Reheat in the microwave if necessary.  Note:  After the leftover puree sat in the refrigerator over night, it stiffened considerably.  So, I incorporated some of the reserved bean liquid into the puree to restore its creaminess before reheating.

Tomato Sauce Rustica:

You can be very “approximate” with these measurements, as you can’t go wrong!

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 medium tomatoes (preferably heirloom), cut into 1/4-inch dice

2 medium garlic cloves, minced

Pinch sea salt

2 tablespoons white wine

2 tablespoons snipped chives

In a large skillet over medium-high, heat olive oil to shimmering.  Add tomatoes, garlic and a pinch of salt and saute, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or until tomatoes are softened and garlic begins to turn golden.  Reduce heat if necessary.  Add wine and simmer 2-3 more minutes or until mixture thickens.  Stir in chives and remove from heat.  Serve warm over warm Lima bean puree.

For 150+ additional seasonal recipes not on this website, I invite you to explore The Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes.

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Vegan “Southern” Indian Cilantro-Scented Cardamom-Coconut Cream Blackeyed Peas, Peppers & Spinach

Yield: 4 servings

That title is a mouthful, but since you can’t inhale the intoxicating aroma in our kitchen, I wanted you to be able to imagine what this luscious and colorful amalgamation would smell and taste like just from the title.

The “southern” part has little to do with Southern Indian cuisine, but with my south’ren roots revealed in the inclusion of blackeyed peas instead of a more traditional Indian legume.

In the photo, I served the dish as a starter, ready to spoon into miniature puri (fried bread puffs) at right, and spooned into a puri and garnished–just break through the crisp top crust with your finger or a spoon–at bottom.  But I created it to also be served over basmati rice as a main course or a welcome addition to an Indian-inspired buffet.

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 cup of yellow onion, cut into 1/4 x 1-inch pieces (about 1 medium)

sea salt to taste

1 large red bell pepper, coarsely diced

2 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1-15.5 ounce can blackeyed peas, rinsed and drained

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon turmeric

pinch of freshly ground black pepper

1-15 ounce can coconut milk (I don’t use the lite, but rather cut calories elsewhere!)

2 cups, semi-firmly packed fresh baby spinach, finely chopped (I use a food processor)

1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped

1 Roma tomato, cut into 1/2-inch chunks

optional: 1/8 teaspoon asafoetida

Accompaniments: miniature puri for appetizers (little spheres of puffed bread dough available in Indian markets) or over cooked basmati rice (I like to throw in a cinnamon stick and a few cardamom pods–avoid biting into either)

Optional garnishes: fresh cilantro, in sprigs or finely chopped, an/or a few roasted and lightly salted cashews

In a large cast iron skillet over medium-high, heat the tablespoon of olive oil to shimmering.  Add the onion and a pinch of salt, and saute for abut 5 minutes, stirring almost constantly, until the onion develops a light brown caramelization.  Adjust heat if necessary to prevent scorching.  Add the bell pepper and saute for 3 minutes or until it begins to soften.  Add the garlic and saute for 2 minutes or until garlic and peppers are soft.  Stir in the peas followed by the cardamom, coriander, cumin, turmeric, and black pepper.  Add the coconut milk, stir well to combine all ingredients, and heat through.  Add the spinach and cook, stirring, just until heated through.  Add the cilantro and optional asafoetida, stir to combine, and cook just another minute to allow flavors to combine.  Check for seasoning and add additional salt and black pepper if desired.  Serve in miniature puri as an appetizer or over basmati rice for a main course.  Garnish with fresh cilantro if desired.

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Just Over 24 Hours Left in Blooming Platter (Vegan) Cookbook Give-Away

Photo Credit: TW Steel Website

I decided to post a picture of a fabulous TW Steel watch my husband purchased last week at a trunk show at Hardy’s Jewellers here in VA Beach as a reminder that time is ticking on my give-away!  (That rose gold looks yummy against his Italian skin!)

There are barely more than 24 hours left before my Blooming Platter (Vegan) Cookbook give-away ends.  All entries must be in by midnight tomorrow, June 20.  I choose and announce a winner for my brand new seasonal cookbook on the Summer Solstice, Tuesday, June 21.

Hurry and follow this link for your chance to win!

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Vegan Indian Samosa Potato-Pea Salad on a Poppadom

This salad combines all of the ingredients that I love about Indian Samosas into a much lighter dish because I substitute poppadoms for the fat-and-flaky crust that encases all of the spicy potato and pea goodness.  I roast the potatoes for extra flavor and I stir the traditional cilantro and mint dipping chutneys and spices into the dressing, dolloping a mango or fruit-type chutney on the top.

Don’t you think the salad look enchanting served in its poppadom cup?  As you probably know, poppadoms are very low-calorie/low-fat Indian chickpea wafers with a high level of flavor.  They puff up magnificently in the microwave in a mere 45-60 seconds.  The shape into which they morph is not always predictable, so you might end up with something rippled but flatter and less cup-like, but no worries.  The dish will still look beautiful and taste divine even if presented as more of a tostado.

Yield: 4 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 1/2 cups quartered new potatoes (mine were white-skinned)

1 1/2 cups fresh peas

2 pinches of sea salt

1/4 cup vegan mayo (the Blooming Platter Mayo in my new cookbook is quite special, if I do say so myself; but any kind will do)

1 teaspoon prepared Indian Cilantro Chutney (available at Indian markets and the International aisle of better-stocked grocery stores)

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon curry powder

1 teaspoon prepared Indian Mint Chutney (also available at Indian markets and the International aisle of better-stocked grocery stores)

4 poppadoms

4 teaspoons or a bit more Indian fruit chutney (prepared or homemade; I used my homemade Blackberry Chutney because I had some on hand)

Optional garnish: 4 petite slices of yellow, red or orange bell pepper or even Roma tomato + 4 sprigs of mint or cilantro

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place tablespoon of olive oil into a large roasting pan, add potatoes and a pinch of salt and toss lightly to coat.  Roast for about 30  minutes, stirring about every 10 minutes.  I like mind to develop a nice caramelization, but roast for less time if you don’t.  Just make sure they are very tender.  Remove potatoes to a bowl and cool to room temperature.

While potatoes roast, place peas into a 2 quart saucepan.  Add water to just barely cover and a pinch of salt.  Stir once , turn heat to medium-high, cover lightly, and simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until tender.  Drain, rinse with cold water, and drain again.  Add to bowl with potatoes.

In a small bowl, stir together vegan mayo, the cilantro and mint chutneys, and the coriander, cumin and curry powder.  Pour the dressing over the potatoes and peas and stir gently to distribute evenly.  Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Cook poppadoms, a couple at a time, for 45-60 seconds in the microwave.  Remove, place on salad plates, fill each with 1/4 of the salad mixture, dollop with about a teaspoon of the Indian fruit chutney, and garnish as desired.

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Vegan Cook Likes Keurig But Only with Reusable Adapter

Recently, my  sister-in-law, who had built up so many points with Keurig that she was entitled to some free purchases, generously sent a single-serving “on demand” coffee maker to Joe and me.

I love the idea of making coffee–whatever type you prefer (hopefully fair trade)–one cup at a time and almost instantly.

However, I HATE the idea of all of those NON-recyclable K-Cups ending up in the landfills.  Though I would love to see what the “Visual Team” from Anthropologie would create with them since they are utter “recycled art” geniuses.

I hope this doesn’t sound harsh, but I feel that it is socially irresponsible for companies who manufacture the K-Cups not to do so with recyclable plastic.  I just don’t understand.

At any rate, I did a little research and mine seems to be a prevailing sentiment.  But my research also turned up Green Mountain’s refillable/recyclable K-cup adapter and filter, so I just placed an order.  Yes, it takes a tiny bit more time to scoop, but I can enjoy my cuppa with a clearer conscience.  Hope you will too!  (For coupons generously offered by Green Mountain, click here.)

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