So Sunday afternoon my husband and I got back from grocery shopping and we were a bit hungry. I wanted to make something quick and I had a huge juicy tomato calling my name!  So, I decided to make a sandwich but I wanted to make something that was a bit more fancy...something that you would expect at a little café or casual restaurant.  My husband has always liked the Tomato & Mozzarella Panini from Starbuck's.  I wanted to do something similar to this but with a bit of a twist and make it vegan, of course!  So, I set out to make one heck of a Tomato Basil Café Sandwich!  I think this was a huge success because my husband was saying the other night that he wanted me to make more of these sandwiches!  This recipe makes 2.


2 Vegan French Baquette rolls (I found mine at the local grocery store, Pick N' Save)
Olive oil
4 large tomato slices
1/3 chopped basil
4 slices of Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet Mozzarella
2 tbs. Veganaise
Salt & pepper to taste

How To:

Turn on the broiler.  Slice the rolls in half length-wise without cutting all the way through the other end (like a hot dog bun).  Place the rolls on a cookie sheet.  Brush the inside of the rolls with olive oil or use an olive oil pump sprayer to coat (I used the sprayer so I'm not sure how much you would use if you brush the inside but the goal is to get a light coating of oil).  Place 2 tomato slices on the bottom half of each bun & place a slice of mozzarella on each tomato slice.

In a small bowl combine the basil with enough olive oil to make a sauce (about 2 tbs.).  Evenly divide the sauce and drizzle on top of the tomatoes & mozzarella.  Season with salt & pepper to taste.

Place under the broiler and cook until cheese is bubbly and melted (about 5 minutes).  Remove from the oven.  Now that the cheese is soft you can spread it a bit more on
the tomatoes if you like !  Spread the top half of each bun with a tablespoon of veganaise.  Enjoy!
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I won't lie...I've been missing a Caesar Salad ever since I went vegan.  I used to make the BEST Caesar Salads from scratch but they always contained animal products like egg yolk, anchovy paste, non-vegan Worcestershire (contains anchovies), and parmesan cheese.  I was baffled on how to recreate the dressing and make it taste the same until I came across this recipe on Pinterest!  This recipe is from Steph at the Whole Food Lab blog.  This recipe is a 5 star winner!  I was so impressed with how it tasted almost exactly like the Caesar Salad dressing that I used to make!  I did some add ins to make it more similar and I think it turned out perfectly!  I served up a big plate of this with some leftover Fettuccini Alfredo.  This salad was perfect!  Usually I make homemade croutons but I've just been so busy this last week with an irregular working schedule so I opted to get some vegan sesame salad nuggets.  I think next time I'll make my own croutons though!  Either way, this salad really satisfied my cravings!

What I Did Differently:

I thought this recipe was missing 2 ingredients...nutritional yeast & pepper.  I added in a heaping tablespoon of nutritional yeast to simulate the taste of parmesan cheese and to give a vitamin B-12 kick.  I tossed the romaine lettuce with the dressing and then I added a lot of fresh cracked pepper on top and then tossed it in.  It turned out perfect!

Overall Thoughts:

I thought this recipe was a really interesting combination of ingredients!  I would have never thought of putting all these together for a Caesar Salad Dressing!  What a genius Steph is!  This will be my go to recipe for Caesar Salad from now on!  Thank you Steph!
Lately I've been finding myself on a wrap kick for lunch.  They're so easy to make and it's the perfect way to use up the leftover produce from the week's dinners.  It's also a great way to get your veggies in for the day!  This wrap is probably the simplest one I've made yet and it's super good and highly satisfying!  For as simple as the dressing is for this wrap it's still extremely flavorful!  You could even serve this for dinner with some veggies and hummus on the side (check out my recipe for Red Pepper Hummus).


1 tortilla wrap
1 & 1/2 cup lettuce (I used romaine)
1/4 cup cucumber, roughly chopped
1/2 of a roma tomato, roughly chopped
1/4 of an avocado, sliced
1/4 cup shredded carrots
1 slice of red onion, chopped
5-6 kalamata olives
olive oil
red wine vinegar
salt & pepper, to taste

How To:

Place all of the veggies in the center of the wrap.  Drizzle with olive oil (I used about 1 tablespoon) & sprinkle with the red wine vinegar.  Sprinkle with some salt, freshly cracked pepper, and oregano.  Fold the bottom of the wrap up about 1-2 inches and then fold the left & right side in.  Viola!  Lunch is served!
This hummus can be whipped up in 10 minutes or less!  This recipe is simple to make and is perfect for a light lunch or served as an appetizer.  It's been really hot lately (above 90 degrees all week and really high humidity) and this weather has me craving some light and refreshing foods.  This is what I served myself up for lunch and it really hit the spot and helped me to beat the heat! 


15 oz. can garbanzo beans, rinsed & drained
1/2 of a red pepper, quartered
2 tbs. tahini
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 garlic clove, smashed
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. salt or to taste

How To:

Toss all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth making sure to scrap the sides one time!  Allow to chill for 30 minutes or you can eat some now and refrigerate the rest for later (that's what I did)! 
Summer, means fresh homegrown tomatoes and fresh tomatoes mean that it's time for a BLT!  It never ceases to amaze me that there are so many alternative options on the vegan market!  I've really been having a craving for BLT's lately and I blame it on my good lookin' tomatoes in my garden that have been staring back at me!  I came across several recipes to make "bacon" at home but I just haven't tried it out yet.  I will put that task on my "To Do" list!  However, this past weekend while my husband and I were shopping at Outpost something had caught my eye.  I was picking out some tempeh for our spicy sushi rolls that we were going to make that night and I spotted this lovely package...

Pure excitement came over me because that was the first time that I've spotted a bacon alternative in the grocery store!  I looked to my husband and said, "Look its bacon!!!!  We have to try it!!!  Can we get it?!?!"  Of course my husband couldn't say "no" to my pure joy!  I couldn't wait to try it out!
So last night we decided to have the BLT's for dinner and it was a complete success!  I had fallen in-love with my vegan BLT.  I actually finished my sandwich before my husband finished his!  To prepare the bacon all you do is fry it in a pan with a touch of oil until the edges are crispy.  This bacon is a tad sweet and a little smoky.  We both really enjoyed the flavor.  I wish that it could have been just a bit more smoky and peppery.  You could easily make it more peppery by dipping the edges in some ground black pepper and then fry it up in the pan!  It's just a personal preference of mine but I do love my pepper!  Overall, I think I would buy this product again if I don't have the time to prepare my own homemade "bacon"!  I think this bacon is a perfect option!  It's certified vegan and USDA organic.  For more product information and to find it in a store near you, please check out this link.
We kept our BLT's simple and just used veganaise, romaine lettuce, the tempeh bacon, tomatoes from our garden, and a couple of avocado slices.  It was perfect!  I served the sandwiches with fresh cucumber slices with a pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper on top.  Delish!
Who doesn't love a loaded baked potato?  I was skeptical as to how this would turn out because I was fearful that a vegan baked potato wouldn't be quite the same as the traditional kind from my childhood.  I remember as a young child, waiting in long lines for countless years at the Wisconsin State Fair for a loaded baked potato!  They were my favorite as a child but of course they were topped off with real butter, sour cream, cheese, and bacon.  Sadly, I didn't know any better back then.  However, I have the rest of my life to make up for it! 
This vegan baked potato is just as good and is bound to leave your craving satisfied!  I usually make these for dinner when it's been a long night and we don't have much time.  Whenever I have physical therapy I don't get home until 7:15 pm and my husband and I don't have time to eat beforehand.  So, I serve up this loaded baked potato alongside a large portion of steamed broccoli!  This is a perfect meal for a dinner in a hurry!  You could even use smaller baked potatoes and make this a side dish!  This recipe serves two.


2 baking potatoes
Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread
vegan shredded cheese (I like the Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet Shreds in cheddar)
vegan sour cream (I usually use the Tofutti brand)
vegan bacon bits
2 green onions
freshly ground pepper

How To:

Scrub the baking potatoes under cold water until clean.  Pierce the potatoes with a fork on all sides.  Place both of the potatoes on one microwave safe plate.  Cooking times will vary per size of the potato.  I usually use the potato setting on my microwave.  I place them in the microwave and hit the potato button.  When it's done I flip the potatoes, and hit the potato button one last time.  If you don't have a potato setting, I would start with about 5 minutes and turn the potatoes halfway through.  Cook the potatoes until tender when pierced with a fork all the way through.

When potatoes are done, place the potatoes on separate plates.  Slice the potatoes lengthwise making sure to not cut all the way through and only halfway down the sides.  Make several cuts the opposite way just on the top of the potato and then gently break apart the top of the potato with a fork working down to the bottom and sides of the potato to loosen everything up. 

Top off with your desired amount of Earth Balance butter and sprinkle with the vegan cheese.  I like to microwave my potato for an additional 45 seconds at this point.  Top it off with your vegan sour cream and slice one green onion with a kitchen scissors over the top of each potato.  Sprinkle with bacon bits and add some freshly ground pepper if you'd like!  Serve with a side of steamed broccoli and you've got yourself a meal in less than 10 minutes!
If you're looking for a quick and easy lunch or lighter dinner that's loaded with veggies, high in protein, and packed full of flavor then this recipe is for you!  This wrap could easily be served up with some soup or perhaps a side of hummus and fresh-cut veggies!  Either way you serve it, this wrap is great!  This recipe makes 2 servings.


3 tbs. Veganaise
1 tbs. Dijon mustard
1 tbs. Maple syrup
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 tbs. fresh parsley, minced *optional
1 tsp. fresh thyme, minced *optional
(If you have the fresh herbs listed above that's great but if you don't this sauce still tastes awesome!  I chose to use the herbs because I had them in my garden.)

For The Wraps:
2 tortilla wraps (I chose spinach)
2 cups romaine lettuce, chopped
1/2 of a plum tomato, diced
1/3 cup red onion, chopped
1/2 cup cucumber, chopped (I did 1/4" thick slices and then quartered them)
1/2 of an avocado, sliced
1/2 cup shelled edamame, cooked (See Note at Bottom)
1 dill pickle, diced *optional
1/3 cup matchstick carrots
2 tsp. sesame seeds

How TO:

In a small bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the sauce and whisk by hand until completely blended.

Place the wrap on a flat surface and add half of all of the veggies to each wrap in the order listed above making sure to place the veggies more towards one side of the wrap.

Drizzle the veggies with the Maple Dijon Sauce and sprinkle each wrap with 1 tsp. sesame seeds.
Tuck in the ends of the wrap and tightly fold over the veggie filled part of the wrap, give it a gentle tug to tighten the roll, and then roll to the end of the wrap.  It's important to wrap it as tightly as you can so that it doesn't fall apart when you eat it!  You can cut it in half if you'd like. 
Yummy!  Enjoy!

*  I had some frozen shelled edamame in my freezer.  I just threw some in a pot, covered it with water, brought it to a boil (uncovered), and boiled it for 3 minutes.  Then I strained it, rinsed it with cold water, and drained well.
Awhile back I reviewed this 'Vegeterian Jap Chae' recipe from Alice which was a guest submission recipe on the Herbavoracious blog.  My husband and I absolutely loved this dish but there was one problem...it was SO greasy!  Lately, I've been discovering about how most oils are actually not good for you; even extra virgin olive oil!  If you're looking for more information on this then I suggest to watch the film "Forks Over Knives: The Extended Interviews".

So I decided to revisit this recipe in search of a way to make this healthier than the original version and it was a success!  I actually think the healthier version was more flavorful!  This is what I did differently:

I used veggie broth to sauté the vegetables.

I sautéed the onions and bell peppers together with a little bit of veggie broth.  I placed the lid on the pan until the onions were translucent and the peppers were tender.  I then removed the lid and let most of the moisture evaporate.  I added a pinch of salt to this mixture and some freshly ground pepper.  I used 1/4 tsp. of the sesame oil for this entire combination.

I then sautéed the carrots in the same manner.  I did NOT add salt for the carrots but I did add pepper.  I did not use sesame oil for the carrots.

Next, I sautéed the mushrooms in veggie broth.  I covered the mushrooms until they were tender.  I removed the lid and then added a pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper to the mushrooms and let most of the excess moisture cook out.  I used 1/4 tsp. of sesame oil for the mushrooms.

I did use olive oil to fry the tofu in but I after I was done frying the tofu I used the excess oil and moisture to cook the green onions and garlic.  I did NOT add salt or pepper to either the tofu or green onions.  I did NOT use sesame oil for the tofu or green onions.

I did use olive oil when adding the noodles but I only used 1 tsp. instead of 1 tablespoon.

In my review you will notice that I added rice vinegar.  I also added rice vinegar to this dish as well but I ended up pouring more than I anticipated!  It was the perfect amount of rice vinegar though!  I would estimate about 3 tablespoons of rice vinegar. 

I didn't have to add in any extra soy sauce like last time.  I did use low-sodium soy sauce with this dish as well.

I also used the same alternative noodles that I chose last time...the rice stick noodles.

Just by making these simple changes I was able to omit 5 & 1/2 teaspoons of olive oil, and 2 & 1/2 teaspoons of sesame oil!  I probably used no more than 1/4 cup of veggie broth total, if even that much.  You just need to be more aware of the veggies when you're sautéing them because they have a tendency to stick a bit more.  If the veggies start sticking you can add more broth.  I also used low sodium soy sauce and I didn't salt the veggies as much as directed.  This dish still turned out amazing and I think it was more flavorful than the first!

If you're interested in making this dish you can find the original recipe here and if you'd like to make a healthier version you can just follow the simple alterations that I listed above.  Please check out my review for more helpful tips here.

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Oh. My. Goodness.  These tacos were awesome and they really hit the spot!  I rate this recipe with 5 huge stars!  I couldn't put these tacos down!  I found this recipe on Pinterest and it's from Christy at The Blissful Chef blog.  My Husband really enjoyed these tacos as well!  He seemed a bit skeptical when I pulled out the romaine lettuce leaves to use for the taco shells but as soon as he took a bite all of the skepticism disappeared!  These tacos literally took only 10 minutes to make besides the time used to soak the nuts!  They satisfied my craving and went above and beyond my expectations.  I only used shredded carrots and salsa to top off my tacos and I served it with a side of my homemade guacamole

What I Did Differently:

I didn't change one thing about this recipe!

Overall Thoughts:

This recipe will definitely be one of my "go to" taco recipes!  I will be making these again...probably very soon!  I can't wait to try more recipes from Christy!  She is brilliant! 
This recipe is bound to knock you off of your feet because it's packed full of flavor!  This recipe is perfect for those hot summer days or when you're itching for Spring or Summer to come!  I adapted the original recipe from Myrecipes.com to make it vegan and I changed up a few things.  I used to make this recipe when I was not a vegan and I could never get enough of it!  So, when I went vegan I was determined to enjoy this dish and stick to my vegan diet without missing the flavors of the old recipe and it was a success!   I hope you enjoy! 


8 ounces gemelli pasta
1 & 1/2 cup haricot verts, sliced into thirds (French beans; if you can't find them then you can substitute regular green beans)
2 tbs. fresh thyme, minced
Grated rind of one lemon (about 2 tbs.)
1 medium shallot, minced
2 tbs. champagne vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
5 tbs. olive oil
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper, freshly ground
1/2 cup shelled pistachios
1/2 tbs. nutritional yeast

How To:

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil.  While you're waiting for the water to boil whisk together the thyme, shallots, champagne vinegar, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.  Set the sauce aside.

Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook per package instructions and add the haricot verts during the last 3 minutes of cooking (if you're using the regular green beans then add during the last 4 minutes of cooking).  Strain the pasta and green beans and rinse with cold water until completely cool and drain well.

Whisk the sauce once more and add the pasta and beans to the bowl.  Add the pistachios and sprinkle the nutritional yeast on top and toss well to coat evenly.  Place pasta in a serving bowl and serve with additional nutritional yeast to sprinkle on top if desired.