Wednesday, March 31

Lightning salsa mac & cheez

Okay, this might not count as a recipe. You know when you get home at 7:30pm and you're so hungry that the cats' food starts to look tempting?

That's why we keep a few boxes of Roads End Organic Mac & Chreese in the pantry. We tried the brown rice pasta version a few years ago and didn't like it much. Luckily, it's gotten better or I've gotten better at preparing it. We gobbled this up and Erik asked for seconds, but there was none left-- we ate it all in one sitting.

There are many ways to riff off this recipe-- try a different salsa, change out the veggies, add different spices to go along with the flavor theme. You can also take it from a near-instant dish to a rather swank meal by forgoing the boxed mix and making a cheesy sauce from scratch. Here are three good ones:

Lightning salsa mac & cheez

Lightning salsa mac & cheez

vegan, gluten-free


  • 1 box Roads End Organic Penne & Chreese (with gluten-free brown rice pasta)

    That's 6oz of pasta or about 1 1/2 cups dry if you want to use your own.

  • 6oz of salsa

    That's 1/2 jar of Trader Joe's salsa verde, my favorite in this recipe.

  • 1 cup faux ham, chopped (or other faux meat, soy product or beans)

  • 1 cup broccoli, chopped (or spinach, or something green)

  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped (or carrots, or something red, orange or yellow)

  • 1 tsp ground coriander

  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin

  • 1/2 tsp ground chipotle

  • a handful of fresh minced cilantro


  • Boil pasta according to package directions. With wheat-free pasta it is CRITICAL not to overcook. Test at the shortest given time and every 30 seconds thereafter until ready, then drain and rinse for 2 minutes in cold water.

  • While the pasta boils, saute the faux ham and broccoli over medium heat in a covered nonstick frying pan. You might have to add a tablespoon or two of water to cook the broccoli all the way.

  • Melt 2 tbsp margarine in a saucepan and add the cheeze mix powder, or make your own cheeze sauce.

  • Add the spices to the saucepan, stir and heat through.

  • Now dump everything together in whichever pan will fit, mix thoroughly, and serve.

  • For an extra treat, smooth into an ovenproof casserole dish, cover with a thin layer of breadcrumbs (I have yet to find a panko replacement), sprinkle with sweet paprika, and bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.

Tuesday, March 30

Peanut butter cups

I love chocolate. And there's nothing like a sweet ending to even an already-satisfying meal. The other night I made sundaes using the leftover cookie dough from the oatmeal cream pies-- a scoop of vanilla soy ice cream covered with small chunks of dough, drizzled with chocolate syrup. It was a treat after an exhausting day at work and a great way to use leftovers.

Oatmeal cookie dough sundae

The real reason for this post, however, is these ridiculous peanut butter cups I made last night. My friend Ann loves peanut butter, but we're running out of cookies to make and share that feature this esteemed ingredient (check out her vegan cookie project blog). After researching peanut butter cup recipes, I took the simplicity of this VegWeb recipe, the added sophistication of Have Cake Will Travel's recipe, and the healthy twist of Alicia Silverstone's recipe using graham crackers. While the latter sounds delicious, I have yet to find wheat-free graham crackers. Maybe I'll try this recipe after I make my own. I had just read about the incredible amount of calcium and iron in blackstrap molasses, and its mellow sweetness sounded perfect to smooth out the peanut butter filling.

You will need cupcake liners. I love my reusable silicone baking cups, but I only have eight after a work potluck wherein four got thrown away-- warn your friends that they're not trash! You can use regular disposable liners or mini ones, either way it's nice to have the crinkled edge and a container to hold it in so that your hands don't get too messy while eating.

Homemade peanut butter cups

Homemade peanut butter cups

vegan, gluten-free


  • 1 cup of dairy- and gluten- free chocolate chips

    I like E. Guittard 61% cacao semisweet wafers-- they melt beautifully.

  • 1/2 cup of peanut butter

    I'm partial to smooth, organic pb with only two ingredients-- peanuts and salt!

  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar

  • 2 tbsp blackstrap molasses

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon (optional)


  • Melt chocolate in a glass bowl by microwaving for 30 seconds, stirring thoroughly, and repeating. Should take about 2 minutes total microwave time.

  • With a large dinnerware spoon, scoop a heaping spoonful of melted chocolate into a liner and smooth it around, up the sides of the container. After each one is done, go back and make sure that the bottom of the cups are completely covered in chocolate. Most of mine had bare spots from the tip of the spoon touching down. This doesn't have to be perfect by a long shot, though.

  • Place be-chocolated liners on a plate in the fridge to cool while mashing remaining ingredients together in a bowl.

  • Once peanut butter filling is a smooth paste, drop 1 tsp at a time into liners to try to get an equal amount in each.

  • Once all of the filling is used up, press flat in each liner with fingers.

  • Melt the remaining chocolate again if you have to, and use the spoon to place an equal amount on the top of each liner.

  • Shake each liner so that melted chocolate smoothly covers all of the filling.

  • Put back in fridge to cool about half an hour. I made mine late at night, so they had overnight to solidify. Otherwise I couldn't have waited!

Tuesday, March 23

Oatmeal cream pies

When I saw these amazing oatmeal cream pies on I knew I had to make them. Tonight. Well, it actually turned out to be the next night, after a running-out-of-cat-food emergency.

At any rate, I followed the recipe as best I could, subbing 1 cup of Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour plus 1/2 cup barley flour for the 1 1/2 cups of "regular" flour; EnerG egg replacer instead of the flax eggs; added about 1/4 tsp of freshly grated nutmeg along with the cinnamon; and used the vanilla but not the cream cheese in the filling.

Mine spread out something awful and melded together at the edges, but they taste delicious and were quicker to make than other sandwich cookies I've tried.

I will likely make these again, using less margarine over all and subbing some of it out with applesauce, refrigerating the scooped cookie dough before baking (an not flattening the balls of dough), and making way less cream filling-- I have more than half of it left after all of the cookies are gone.

Oatmeal cream pies

Half-sweet gnocchi in cream sauce

I have yet to find a commercially prepared gnocchi made without wheat flour, so in a fit of ambition I decided to make my own. It's not very difficult, although it requires a few cooking steps that take some time. After researching recipes, Vegan Yum Yum had by far the most complete instructions and simplest ingredients for how to make gnocchi. Read them and you'll be fully prepared.

So I used her methodology, with two substitutions in the both of the ingredients and a bit of a cheat in baking the potatoes. I only had one russet potato, so I used that one and a white sweet potato, which are less sweet than the more common orange-colored "garnet" or "jewel" varieties. Instead of bread flour, I used Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour.

To showcase the delicate flavor of the homemade gnocchi, I pan-fried it after cooking and served it with a simple creamy sauce.

Homemade half-sweet gnocchi in cream sauce

Half-sweet gnocchi in cream sauce

vegan, gluten-free


  • 1 large russet potato and 1 white sweet potato

    (you could also use 2 russet potatoes or experiment with combinations of less-sweet white sweet potatoes and more-sweet orange yams)

  • 1 cup gluten-free flour mix (I used Bob's Red Mill GF All Purpose Baking Mix)

    You might use more or less depending on the moisture in the potatoes

  • For the sauce:

  • 2 tbsp margarine (Earth Balance is my favorite)

  • 1/2 onion, diced

  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed

  • 1 tbsp gluten-free flour mix

  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

  • 2 cups unsweetened soy milk (I use West Soy unsweetened)

  • 1 cup spinach coarsely chopped

  • 1/2 a red pepper, cut into short strips

  • Lemon-Pepper Marinated Tempeh (I used Turtle Island brand pre-made, but you could make your own or use any variety you like)


  • Use a fork to poke holes around each potato, about 10 times on each.

  • Microwave on high for 5 minutes, turn, microwave for 5 minutes more.

  • Peel potatoes. At this point you should be able to tell if one or both aren't cooked through all the way. They might need more microwaving, 2 minutes at a time.

  • Grate potatoes (use a dish towel or protective handle so you don't burn your fingers!) across a cutting board so that the shreds can cool off with the most surface area.

  • Put a large pot of heavily salted water on to boil to cook the gnocchi.

  • Sprinkle about 1/2 cup of flour over surface of grated potatoes and begin to squish in with your hands into a smooth dough.

  • Add flour slowly until dough is soft and stays together-- err on the side of less flour and less kneading.

  • Pull off about 1/4 cup of dough, roll into a 1/2 inch diameter snake, and cut into 1 inch long segments. At this point you can shape them against the back of a fork, smooth them into dumplings with your hands, or leave them as is.

  • Heat a frying pan to medium with about a teaspoon of olive oil.

  • Turn the boiling water down to a very low boil. Add gnocchi and cook for about 2 minutes or until they float.

  • Remove cooked gnocchi from boiling water straight into the frying pan. Make sauce while gnocchi browns, about 5 minutes on each side.

  • Melt margarine in a small sauce pan on medium heat, saute onions til translucent.

  • Add garlic, cook an additional minute.

  • Stir in flour, 1-3 minutes til mixture has a consistent smoothness.

  • Add lemon juice, mix thoroughly.

  • Add soy milk gradually, whisking smooth. Consistency should be thin enough to pour, but thick enough to stick to the gnocchi.

  • Add spinach and red pepper, they will cook in the sauce while you pan-fry the tempeh just to crisp the edges, then add that to the sauce.

  • Salt to taste (start with 1/2 tsp). Serve sauce draped over gnocchi and dust with fresh-ground back pepper to taste (I like tons).

Sunday, March 21

Orange chicken stirfry

I was scouring Food Fight grocery store the other day for wheat-free faux-meats and came across a frozen box of Vegan Orange Chicken By Vegetarian Plus. They have a number of yummy-looking products, but only the orange chicken and the vegan Kung Pao chicken appear to be made without wheat.

These pre-made or marinaded saucy meat substitutes make for a great meal idea launch pad. You can extend or change the sauce, but you have a good flavor base to start with. I tasted a bit of the orange chicken sauce and found that it wasn't quite as salty as I like, but other than that, I tried to mimic the tangy, just-sweet flavor when I added ingredients to cover the whole dish in sticky orange sauce. I also wanted to keep the dish quick and easy, so I stuck to the basic veggies-- broccoli and red pepper-- but you can use anything.

The Vegan Orange Chicken chunks themselves are stringy and chewy in a way I really enjoy. The flavor isn't as meaty as some faux meats; it's more an intense version of the sauce. I will definitely buy it again.

Here's the basic recipe.

Orange chicken stirfry

Orange Chicken

vegan, gluten-free


  • 10 oz dry or enough for 3-4 servings of thin, flat rice noodles, like the kind used for pad thai

  • 1 box of Vegan Orange Chicken By Vegetarian Plus

    (or 10 oz or 1 1/2 cups of faux meat of your choice, plus triple or more of the sauce ingredients later)

  • 1/2 an onion, sliced to make long strips

  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed

  • 1-2 cups coarsely chopped broccoli

  • 1/2 a red pepper, cut into strips

  • cilantro for garnish (about 1/4 cup)

  • mung bean sprouts for garnish (about 1/4 cup)

  • For the sauce:

  • 1 tbsp tamari (wheat-free soy sauce)

  • 1 tbsp frozen orange juice concentrate

  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar

  • 1 tbsp brown sugar or mirin


  • Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Cook noodles according to package directions while cooking the veggies. Err on the side of less cooked noodles, since we'll add them to the stirfry later.

  • Prepare your wok or pan-- drizzle with oil and heat to medium-high.

  • Add onions, stir til just browning, about 5 minutes.

  • Add garlic, stir for 1 minute.

  • Add faux meat, stir for 3-5 minutes.

  • Add broccoli, stir for 3 minutes.

  • Add all sauce ingredients, stir for 1 minute.

  • Add cooked rice noodles, stir til coated with sauce. Leave for 3 minutes, stir, leave for 3 more minutes.

  • Add red pepper, stir for 1 minute.

  • Turn off heat, add garnishes.

Living Free: Vegan and Wheat-Free

I've been vegan for a long time-- avoiding dairy, meat, and other animal products in my food, clothing, and personal products. Although I was already vegetarian, a friend dared me to give up dairy for two weeks in August 1997, and I never went back.

Because there weren't many vegan products available back then and because I was a poor college student, I had to learn to cook. Over the years I've learned a lot about making healthy food that my omnivorous husband (I met him just weeks after becoming vegan) also enjoys. I've fallen in love with food-- farmers' markets, gardening, cookbooks, baking blogs, you name it.

That's been well and good for years now, but suddenly in early March 2010 my husband was diagnosed with a wheat allergy! Just a couple of weeks eschewing wheat products have made a visible difference in his health. We're ready to go for it. But I have to rethink all of my go-to meals of pizza, soup with homemade bread, mac & "cheez," barbecued seitan.

Luckily, I'm well prepared for the challenge: I already read labels, love to improvise, and have some culinary tricks up my sleeves. That, and I'm determined to make this change as painless as possible for my spouse, as well as share ideas and inspiration with anyone who finds themselves suddenly "gleegan." Bring on the vegan, wheat-free living!

Photos, original recipes and text © Susan Kelley 2012. All rights reserved. Please credit me and link back to this site, or ask first.

Always read ingredient labels carefully (and re-read periodically) to make sure that products actually are vegan and/or gluten-free.